In an opening scene from the movie Silent Hill the little girl; Sharon, plagued by sleepwalking incidents and memory lapses, is depicted cradled in the arms of her adopted mother; Rose. They lounge against a tree and the grass around them sways in the breeze of a sun lit day. Sharon fidgets as Rose speaks sweetly into her ear “you know we’re going on a special trip don’t you?” In a coquettish kitten voice, Sharon replies “no.” Continuing Rose says “do you know where we’re going?” Sharon shakes her head no. In a soothing voice, Rose says “no? Honey sometimes when you go to sleep you go on a little walk and sometimes you talk about a place…called Silent Hill.” Sharon looks Rose in the eye and resolutely pronounces “I don’t remember.” Rose replies “that’s okay sweetie that’s why we’re gonna go there. So you can remember…”1
They drift off to sleep and when they awaken the view moves far enough away to show them reclining against the gnarled trunk of a rough barked tree under its canopy of wrinkled leaves. A couple of feet to their right, reclining against the trunk of the same tree, there’s a mummified corpse that looks to have fallen asleep and never awoken. They’re in an alternate universe and from that point on in the movie Rose and Sharon never leave it. They are already in Silent Hill.
They walk down a hill to their car parked on a street a few hundred feet away. The sign on the roadside reads; “Do you not know that we will judge angels. Do you not know the saints will judge the world…”2
The town of Silent Hill sits atop a coal seam fire. A product of industrialization and estimated to cause 4% of the world’s total carbon emissions. Coal seam fires occur in mine shafts and can burn for years. Their fumes poison the air above. The inhabitants of Silent Hill believe they have survived ‘the apocalypse’ which was the setting of the fire thirty years before. They live in a nightmare world where their only purpose is seemingly to cower in fear from a sentient darkness that hunts them like animals. They take shelter from it in their church and from a faceless monster that rules over it. He has a pyramid for a head and outside the church is unstoppable. His entourage includes swarms of humanoid insects and hideously contorted and disfigured mannequin-like creatures that move in the jerky motions of a badly oiled machine in rhythm to a defected clock. These creatures are all homicidally hostile toward the church congregation. The darkness, which contains them, can come at anytime and is heralded by an air raid alarm sounded throughout the town warning those foraging outside to get back to the sanctuary of the church. When she lags behind the girl who leads Rose to the church is caught by Pyramid Head and pulled from her skin writhing in agony. Inside the church Rose, who was separated from Sharon shortly after they awakened, is told by the priestess; Christabella, that she must seek Sharon out in the basement of Silent Hills abandoned hospital, the lair of Alessa the witch.
Upon being taken there by Christabella and her contingent of guards Rose makes her way down through a room occupied by a bevy of scantily clad nurses whose mutilated corpses do a well-choreographed dance routine ending in an orgy of stabbing and slashing. When she finally meets her Rose discovers that Alessa is the doppelganger or dark side of Sharon who because she is innocent was removed from Silent Hill. Alessa has been split in two by the traumatic event that began the coal seam fire thirty years before when the church congregation, led by the priestess, attempted to burn her alive as a witch. But Alessa could not die and she turned their fire back on them igniting the coal seam fire. Although her own body is now horribly disfigured she projects both Alessa and the world of Silent Hill from her citadel in the basement of the hospital where she was sequestered by her would be rescuers. Alessa explains to Rose “when you’re hurt and scared for so long, the fear and pain turn to hate and the hate starts to change the world…” 3
Alessa continues, telling Sharon of her plans for vengeance on the congregation. “Now the dream of this life must end and so to must the dreamers within in it. For over thirty years they’ve lied to their own souls. For thirty years they’ve denied their own fate. But now is the end of days and I am the reaper.”4 She continues. “Their blind conviction repels me from their church. I cannot enter while they deny their fate but you can.” 5 Alessa then enters into Rose’s body and Rose returns to the church ostensibly alone. The congregation, having learned from a locket she dropped that Rose’s daughter looks exactly like Alessa, meet her with blows and accusations that she too is a witch. She pushes her way through and confronts Christabella shouting. “Why don’t you tell them the truth, the truth that you deny even to yourself? There was no apocalypse. You burned in the fire you started and nothing can save you because you’re already damned!”6
Rose is knocked to the ground by the blows of the congregation and Christabella screams “burn her! Burn her as a witch!” Getting to her feet Rose makes her way to Christabella and stands face to face with her sneering. “Burn me? That’s your answer; burn anything you’re afraid of? Burn anything you can’t control? This woman uses your fear to control you, she led you to burn Alessa Gillespie, she led you to burn an innocent child, but you will not deny your guilt and you cannot deny her pain.” Christabella snarls back. “That child was sin incarnate!” Rose answers. “No, it’s you who have sinned. You darkened the heart of an innocent and now you cower in the face of Alessa’s revenge.” The now hysterical Christabella shouts “heresy! Burn her! Burn her!” to which Rose resolutely answers. “You’re faith brings death! You’re alone in this limbo and god is not here…” 6
Christabella then stabs Rose in the chest unleashing Alessa in the church. The blood from Rose’s wound burns a cavernous hole in the floor, down into the pit where the coal seam fire rages. No longer a child Alessa rises up from the hole on a pedestal strapped to a gurney and horribly burned. Razor wire shoots out of her like tentacles groping for the members of the congregation. Christabella is drawn and quartered and the rest of the congregation appropriately eviscerated by the ever probing murderous razor wire. The wound on Rose miraculously heals. The ending leaves Rose and Sharon reunited but still trapped in an alternate universe even when they return to their home far away from Silent Hill.
The sequel; Silent Hill Revelations, wasn’t made until six years later in 2012. In the second movie, Sharon is now on the edge of eighteen and still haunted by nightmares. She has no recollection of the events in Silent Hill years earlier. She has been reunited with her stepfather; Christopher, Roses husband. He has changed his name to Harry and Sharon’s to Heather. She doesn’t seem to mind their anonymity or their vagabond lifestyle. She tells Harry “Heathers fine, I was Sharon then Mary then Cathy, now Heather. You were Christopher now your Harry. Names don’t matter. I’m still me”7
Outside of Harry Heather has lived all her life alone and on the run. She never even knew what she was running from. She had long ago seen Harry kill a man from Silent Hill who had come to get her and assumed they were running from the law. But all the while she was alone her past was close behind…
Rose, who has never returned, appears to Harry in a vision through a mirror. She tells him she is trapped in Silent Hill and that he must protect Sharon. They will be coming to get her because they must have her back. When Harry asks Rose why she cannot return she tells him “I found a seal. Part of it is missing. Only one of us could come through. I made a choice.”8
Heather is starting another school that day where she meets her classmate Vincent Cooper. Unbeknownst to her Vincent is the son of the new priestess, sent there by her to befriend Heather and take her back to Silent Hill. At the school, Heathers world begins slipping in and out of a reality where the people are monsters. Clowns entertaining a children’s party in a food court alternate between demonic and comical. While children eating birthday cake transition into little ghouls who dine on flesh butchered from the living who hang upside down in the backroom of the restaurant. Trussed up like pigs in a slaughterhouse they writhe in agony while bored short order cooks cut pieces from them for the grill.
The balloons for the party read Happy Birthday Heather but they change to Happy Birthday Alessa. When she runs away she is approached by a private detective who tells her she is in imminent danger because he has naively divulged her whereabouts to the Order of Valtiel; the church of Silent Hill. The words have barely left his mouth before he is brutally murdered by a hideous female demon attired like a gladiator that appears from out of nowhere.
Heather flees, thinking she is going crazy. She begins to confide in Vincent who is persistently pursuing her, supposedly with romantic intentions. Vincent is played in the movie by blue-blooded English heartthrob Kit Harington, famous for his role as Jon Snow in The Game of Thrones. On the bus ride home Heather asks Vincent “do you think there’s a difference from dreams and reality?” He laughs at her and cryptically tells her she should talk to his grandfather Leonard Wolf now locked in a padded cell back in his hometown. “He will tell you there are no such things as dreams just endless reality’s all piled on top of each other. Some people see monsters other people just see people.” Incredulously, Heather asks “and they locked him up for that?” Vincent answers sheepishly “my mother had him committed.” Taken aback Heather says “Jesus.” Vincent replies “yea she’s, she’s kind of intimidating, my mother.” Mulling it over Heather repeats “no difference between fantasy and reality …”9
When they get to her house they find Harry has been taken by the order and a sign, scrawled on the wall in what appears to be blood, says “COME TO SILENT HILL.”10 Next to it is a symbol identical to one on a chest Harry keeps in his room. When they examine the contents of the chest they find the documented history of Silent Hill and a gun along with one half of an amulet. When the police knock on the door looking for Heather in connection with the murder of the private detective they abscond for Silent Hill. On the outskirts, they stop at Jacks Inn to stay the night.
Heather falls asleep and dreams of Alessa. When she awakens Vincent is sitting staring at the half of the amulet they found in the chest that he pocketed. He confesses to her who he is and why he is with her. He tells her she mustn’t go to Silent Hill because the order cannot kill Alessa until she and her are together. Then they must kill them both to free themselves from Silent Hill. He gives her the amulet piece and tells her she must join it to its other half to find her father. He tells her that his grandfather Leonard Wolf has it and that he’s dangerous, begging her to let him come along to help. He is interrupted as the darkness envelopes the motel room, peeling away the walls with the instantaneous aging that is its signature. He tells her “you did this.” She replies “no it’s not me. How could it be me?” He answers “because you’re part of Alessa. You’re so close you allow the darkness to break through.”11
The female demon that killed the detective then materializes, snatching Vincent and knocking Heather unconscious. When she awakens she walks out the door and into Silent Hill where she meets Alessa’s real mother Dahlia Gillespie who tells her “You were secretly taken from here to be raised by loving but unaware parents. You’re the only part of Alessa that feels love. You balance her hate. But you should never have come back because now you have given the order what they could never have; a way to destroy Alessa and you.” 12 After an encounter with a spider mannequin creature that turns its victims into mannequins then rips their heads off and incorporates the severed head into its anatomy screaming as it witnesses its own damnation Heather finds Leonard Wolf in room S 12 of the Brookhaven Asylum…
Leonard Wolf is played by actor Malcolm McDowell famous for his over the top role in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. He is in chains and his head is covered with the scars of surgical incisions. He sarcastically tells her that he is an ongoing project. When she tells him she is looking for her father he asks her “is he lost?” She answers “he is in Silent Hill.” To which he replies with another question. “There are many Silent Hills are you sure it’s this one?” 13 When she tells him Vincent said he would know. He scoffs, calling Vincent a traitor and pointing out that the screaming they are hearing from another room is Vincent.
When she shows him her piece of the amulet and asks him if he recognizes it he tells her “I was the master of the order. How could I not know the seal of Metatron? It was stolen from me and used by her to escape with the child. Without it we cannot summon the god.” She exclaims “it is a key! What does it unlock?” He tells her “the true nature of things.”14 He joins her piece to the one he carries inside of him and they fight over the now complete seal of Metatron. She empties her gun into him and he turns into a monster but she ends up victorious and in possession of the seal and he is disintegrated.
Heather is attacked by the rest of the lunatics in the Brookhaven Asylum reaching through the bars as she makes her way down a narrow corridor flanked on both sides by cells. Hopelessly trapped she cries out for help. Because he is Alessa’s “guardian and executioner” 15 and Heather is Alessa, Pyramid Head appears at the far end of the corridor. He makes his way down it with slow deliberation like the immutable force of darkness that he is, loping off the groping arms of the inmates with a giant ax that he drag’s behind him on the floor when he’s not wielding it with the efficiency of a samurai.
Heather finds the room they have put Vincent in; apparently the same one Rose had to pass through to see Alessa in the first movie. There she rescues him from the perversely sexual zombie nurses with a fetish for slashing and stabbing. But not before the nurses, who can only move when the living move, hack Vincent’s guards to pieces. Heather and Vincent make their way together out of the Brookhaven Asylum…
Heather and Alessa finally meet in an amusement park on a carousel that is hand cranked by Pyramid Head who is chained to the center and acts as its engine. As they circle around in the fiery glow of the orders paramilitary force, called the Brethren, which Alessa has just incinerated Heather asks her “do you feel nothing?” Alessa growls “nothing but hate!” Heather says “they say you are a demon” to which Alessa sneers “they are right.” Heather admonishes her “you created this nightmare!” Alessa replies “everyone has a different nightmare in Silent Hill. I am theirs.” Heather answers “I have to save my father” and Alessa says “he’s not my father or yours and sacrifices have to be made.” When Heather tells her to go to hell, Alessa answers “Can’t you see? We’re already here…” 16
Heather and Alessa then fuse into a single entity; Heather. She then passes out on the floor. Pyramid Head slowly stops cranking and the merry-go-round grinds to a halt. When Heather awakens the double doors on a building swing open and she goes inside where she finds the priestess; Claudia, Christabella’s sister. Claudia and the rest of the order are holding Harry and the now recaptured Vincent hostage. Claudia tells Heather she has defeated Alessa and joined the seal of Metatron. She is their savior. She touches Heather affectionately on the cheek and outside Pyramid Head snaps the chains that bind him to the carousel.
Heather reasons that she should be given her father and allowed to go in peace. But Claudia tells her they will now both be sacrificed and their blood will give life to the orders newborn god who will free them from Silent Hill so that they may cleanse the world of its sins. Claudia forces Heather to her knees. Down the hallway, the approaching Pyramid Head can be heard dragging his great sword behind him.
Claudia tells Heather “you have the seal of Metatron. With it, I can summon the god. Give it to me.” Heather hands it to her saying “take it. I want to see the truth of what you are.”17 As soon as Claudia touch’s it her flesh melts away and she undergoes an agonizing transformation into the fearsome female demon that killed the detective and snatched Vincent from Jacks Inn. Shrieking she swings her sword to decapitate Heather but it’s blocked in mid-stroke by the oversized sword of Pyramid Head.
Heather scurries to safety and Pyramid Head traces a circle on floor with his sword that immediately ignites into a flaming circle around them and the two nightmarish beings square off to duel in a ring of fire. The much more agile demon hacks and stabs Pyramid Head repeatedly but to no avail. Pyramid Head is unstoppable and one of his relentless strokes finally severs the head of the demon, killing it for good. Pyramid Head staggers off victorious; dragging his great sword behind him. Heather and Vincent leave Silent Hill together. Harry stays behind to look for Rose. At the very end of the film after all the credits have run Pyramid Head is shown dragging his great sword down the hallway…
1- Silent Hill (Opening Scene) Dir. Christophe Gans. By Christophe Gans, Roger Avary, and Nicolas Boukhrief. Perf. Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates, Tanya Allen, Alice Krige, Jodelle Ferland. TriStar Pictures, April 21, 2006 (Canada), April 26, 2006 (France).
2 – Ibid.
3 – Ibid 1:15:15.
4 – Ibid 1:18:14.
5 – Ibid 1:18:58.
6 – Ibid 1:25:41. – 1:26:52
7 – Silent Hill Revelations (5:13). Dir. Michael J. Bassett. Perf. Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington, Deborah Kara Unger, Martin Donovan, Malcolm McDowell, Carrie-Anne Moss, Sean Bean. Universal Pictures, October 26, 2012(USA, Canada), November 28, 2012(France). Film.
8 – Ibid 8:54.
9 – Ibid 25:24.
10 – Ibid 29:09.
11 – Ibid 40:18.
12 – Ibid 46:11.
13 – Ibid 1:00:00.
14 – Ibid 1:01:09.
15 – Ibid 34:45.
16 – Ibid 1:14:54.
17 – Ibid 1:20:10.