Okay… There’s been a bunch of Silent Hill stuff popping up on my dash and I just feel like flailing about something.
So even if you’re not super familiar with the series, if you’ve seen anything, you’ve seen this guy:
He’s kind of the big boss of Silent Hill 2, and regardless of how much sense it does or doesn’t (mostly doesn’t) make, he appears throughout the rest of the series and the movies. He’s the biggest, baddest, and most overtly malevolent force in the whole of the Silent Hill universe.
Want to know how he’s first introduced?
No cut scene.
No swell in the music that sounds like someone either tased the entire string section or pushed a percussion cabinet down the stairs.
You just sort of find him behind an unsettlingly out-of-place set of prison bars.
And he just stands there, impotently staring at you while your radio goes ballistic with static. You’ve never seen him before. You’re not even really sure what he is at this point… just this reddish shape at the edge of your flashlight beam.
This, my friends, is how you do subtle horror. You make the player do the work for you. Because trust me, at this point in the game (which is a few hours in) your imagination is on overdrive, along with your heart rate and blood pressure.
It remains one of my favorite things about this series. It wasn’t afraid of being oblique and subtle. The creators of Silent Hill understood that horror is probably one of the most voluntary of narrative experiences. You have to suspend the so much belief to get the full experience.
So they have to seduce you. This is a seduction through and through. A tease of ankle under the hem of a very long skirt. They make you want to see more, even as you’re already white-knuckling the controller.