Silent Hill, The Tainted Town

September 5, 2007 at 12:51 pm (Games, Silent, tainted, town)

Silent Hill

The titular town of ‘Silent Hill’ is a gloomy one-time resort town that lies abandoned and derelict, consumed in a perennial fog. Demonic and disfigured creatures roam the streets and buildings, their appearances usually taking the form of private fears and/or insecurities of whomever witnesses them. The town randomly shifts between everyday reality and a decaying and blood-soaked “Otherworld”, where the monsters are more numerous. In the first game, the appearance and inhabitants of the Otherworld took shape from the traumatized mind of Alessa Gillespie. Since then, however, subsequent games have depicted the Otherworld acting semi-independently, creating monsters whose appearance is exclusive to whomever sees them. It has been implied that Silent Hill was always home to a supernatural presence (Mary Shepherd-Sunderland’s assertion in Silent Hill 2 was that it “used to be a sacred place.”), but the town’s bloody history has perverted these energies into something darker.

Commentary published by Konami has stated that the power of Silent Hill has “intensified greatly” since the events of the first game. While the first two games featured protagonists who were drawn into Silent Hill itself, in the third and fourth games, the Otherworld has reached out to people in nearby towns.

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The geography of Silent Hill is situated around the edge of Toluca Lake (where the resort itself lies), with the older sections of town located to the north and along the banks of the adjacent river. Due in part to heavy commercial development, the town is fairly self-sufficient; It has an elementary school, a shopping mall, two separate hospitals (Alchemilla Hospital in Paleville and Brookhaven Hospital in South Vale), and other stores and attractions. “Old Silent Hill” and “Pale Ville” hold sprawling suburban areas, with both apartments and homes, as well as several motels and the grand Lakeview Hotel. The beachfront area of Paleville also has a lighthouse and hosts the Lakeside Amusement Park.

The location of Silent Hill is ambiguous. The manual for the original game stated that it was somewhere in New England. The body of water it surrounds on three sides is later revealed in the second game to be Toluca Lake, however the only real-life Toluca Lake is in California. License plates in the first game indicate Michigan, but the liner notes of the Japanese version of the Silent Hill 4: The Room soundtrack CD gave an address for Heaven’s Night, a nightclub visited by the player in Silent Hill 2, that would put it in Maine. On the official Konami web site, the “map” section is imprinted with a fleur-de-lis, a traditional French symbol. The film adaptation Silent Hill places the town in the fictitious Toluca County, West Virginia.

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The film’s screenwriter Roger Avary used a real town of Centralia, Pennsylvania as an inspiration for the town of Silent Hill. In 1962, a fire in a landfill spread to the coal mines underneath Centralia and has burned since then, which forced most inhabitants to leave forever.

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