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Silent Hill 2 (2001) | History of Horror

Pierce Turner

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Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at unfspinnaker.com every day for a new installment!

Do you like being scared and depressed? Miserable and alone? Then have I got the perfect game for you!

Normally, I wouldn’t talk about a sequel before mentioning the original, but “Silent Hill 2” is so much more important than its predecessor that I have to. There are no returning characters or story from the first game, just the eponymous town. That town is Silent Hill, a nice place where fog blocks your sight, monsters manifest from your mind, and the world changes around you when you’re sad.

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You play as James, an average guy in every sense of the word. What’s interesting is that he got a letter from his wife inviting him to find her in Silent Hill. That would be fine except his wife has been dead for three years. Upon arriving in the foggy town, James discovers the place is all kinds of screwed up. Disgusting monsters are roaming the streets and they want James.

What’s special about the enemies in Silent Hill games is their symbolism. You see, all of these monsters are reflections of the main character’s tortured minds. For James, most of them involve some kind of sexual frustration in their designs. The Lying Figures spray white fluid when they’re close. The Bobblehead Nurses are wearing revealing clothes, but they also represent James’ frustration with hospitals due to his wife’s death. Then there’s the iconic Pyramid Head, a freakishly tall man wielding a huge knife and wearing, you guessed it, a pyramid for a hat. His symbolism runs deep, but he mostly represents James’ guilt as well as male aggression. The first time you see him, he is raping other monsters with female characteristics. This game is not for the faint of heart.

Another fun part about the town is sometimes it will change around you based on the main character’s psyche. This “Otherworld” is signaled by a loud but distant siren, one of the spookiest sounds in any horror game. In the first game, the Otherworld was made of rust and blood. In a later entry, it was ice. James’ Otherworld is much more subdued, however. It swaps fire and blood for water and mold. Stained hospital tarps cover the walls and water drips from the ceiling. It’s scary, but it’s also depressing.

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“Silent Hill 2” deals with themes that most games wouldn’t dare touch. Rape, domestic violence, and suicide, this game is disturbing to say the least. That being said, it has the best story in any horror game. It’s told to you without any words at times, and the symbolism in the environment and in the creatures speak volumes. I can’t say anymore without spoiling, so just check it out for yourself.


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1 Comment

One Response to “Silent Hill 2 (2001) | History of Horror”

  1. Ryan Shaffer on October 24th, 2017 5:54 pm

    Good article overall! It summarizes the game well and was kept spoiler-free. However, I do have a few small corrections to make:

    • The Lying Figures do not “spray white fluid.” They exhale a yellow-green cloud of toxic mist in James’ face. There is still subtext of sexual drustration in them, though: their ‘straitjacketed’ arms seem to extend to their crotches, and the bottoms of their feet are shaped like high-heels.

    • The famous variants of Nurses in this game are called “Bubble-Head Nurses,” not “Bobblehead.”

    • It is unknown whether the pyramid on “Pyramid Head” is actually just his helmet. It could actually be part of his head. What lies beneath it is unknown, but its designer, Masahiro Itō, has confirmed in a tweet that there is something under it. The Gecco figurines that he designed portray the underside as a big web of flesh connected to the metal pyramid, almost like the skin under a fingernail.

    • The time Pyramid Head is raping two Mannequins, as the article mentions, is merely the second time we see him, and not the first—it is, however, the first time we see him in a cutscene. I won’t spoil the first time ever the player sees him, because it’s one of those unforgettable, pants-scatting hallmark moments of gaming that deserves to leave its full imprint on those experiencing the game for themselves.

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