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_The Lost Biology of Silent Hill_

Mez Breeze

_The Lost Biology of Silent Hill_

/join Silent Hill

/The game Silent Hill [all 5 versions] attempts to restitch game-genre predictability. The versions progress using suspense/dread evocation as their primary engagement tool. Various game elements produce this introspective thrill-connection through the use of sound biting [almost literally], sinister environ expectancies [limited visual negotiations through fog/blackness], rotten materiality [decay + dereliction] and puzzle elements designed 2 provoke survival adaptions [fight-or-flight responses].

/The film Silent Hill [2006] successfully attempts to move the immediacy of the immersive game experience into cross-genre territory. The movie stretches a step beyond cinematic conventions and is celluloid-breaking in terms of reflecting game construction rather than a traditional hollywoodised willing-suspension-of-disbelief. The film is completely goal – rather than story – directed with little emphasis placed on a typical film narrative stream to restrict it. Silent Hill plays out essentially through game projections and is incrementally driven by a mixture of anticipatory/reactive adrenalin spike-&-pump. There is no predictable hero[ine]-rite-of-passage evident; the denouement isn’t a round-house-kick in terms of colour-by-number conclusions.

/The “characters” in the film perform as a cinematic version of game NPCs [Non-Player Characters] with little emphasis placed on foregrounding or complete character development [as such they are essentially Non-Character Players that are hardly distinguishable from the secondary monster-characters that inhabit the Silent Hill universe].

/The film rewrites conceptions of ordered biology via flipping gender stereotypes and visceral/genetic re-orderings. Rose [the mother protagonist] is not the biological birth mother of Sharon; Rose also adopts a type of hero’s role most commonly reserved for cinematic leading men. All the central characters are female – Rose, the police officer Cybil, head of the religious sect Christabella, Sharon, Alessa, and Dahlia, Alessa’s mother. All female characters embody gender shades normally reserved for traditional male-hero stereotypes. Rose’s husband Chris is represented as female-passive in his repeatedly thwarted attempts at saving his wife and child; at the movie’s conclusion he is reduced to entrapment in an internalised space portrayal [ie lying asleep on the couch while waiting for his wife and daughter to come home from their “journey”. Another example of this rewritten biology is evident in the forms of the monster encountered – mutated babies on fire, mutilated femme-fatale nurse parodies, bound and gagged masculine-penetrative creatures [pyramid-head or the janitor] and subconscious manifestations of humans as part insectile/animal hybrids.

/Silent Hill unwinds within comprehension/reality layers designed to mimic a sense of game-based goal progression/learning curve. These reality layers are tiered in such a way as to provoke curiosity within the viewer similar to that experienced in an unfolding game dynamic. “Scenes” operate more like game video inserts. These cinematics forward the cardboard plot as opposed to provoking a sense of seamless continuity. The layers interweave to create the film’s primary story-stream. This stream seems difficult to distinguish and deliberately designed to obscure narrative markers throughout the film. The layers add to the film echoing a type of feminist theory mixed with a type of sinister Lewis Carrol/abortive Alice-In-Wonderland make-believe. As Rose + Sharon are about to embark on their journey in Silent Hill, they lie in a field with their backs to a tree and fall asleep. Once awake, they set out to find Silent Hill – a looking-glass moment; the one that triggers reality-splicing [Silent Hill as ash, Silent Hill as darkness, Silent Hill as tangible reality]. There are also many other intertextual references layered within the film such the Midwich School [ref: Midwich Cuckoos] or Bachman [Richard Bachman, a pseudonym of Steven King] that add to this layered reality.

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Main image: Silent Hill. (2023, October 20). In Wikipedia.