- "Silent Hill" refers to multiple subjects. See Silent Hill for more uses. For the town in the film canon, see Silent Hill, West Virginia.
|“||The name of that town is Silent Hill. Although it is known as a scenic resort area, it is a cursed place where the town's former inhabitants were once driven away, brutal executions were once carried out, and a mysterious plague was once prevalent. The town is centered around Toluca Lake, from which a thick fog perpetually enshrouds the area and makes vague the reality and dreams of those who visit the town. And according to those who have seen them, there are also times when "things" that should not naturally exist appear.||”|
Portrayed as what could be considered an archetypal New England tourist town, Silent Hill is shown to be anything but ordinary. Its chief industries are tourism and, to a lesser extent, agriculture. In the first Silent Hill, it is described to be a small town with a population below 30,000 and its key industry, tourism, is in a state of steady decline. However, it is still growing and expanding and may be considered a city by the events of Downpour.
Some of the town's conservative residents oppose modernization and the transformation of the town into a tourist attraction, and although Silent Hill appears at a glance to be an innocuous rural town, this has brought about an unexpected darkness of drug distribution. A religious doomsday cult known as the Order exists behind the scenes.
Built along the shores of Toluca Lake, Silent Hill appears to be an expanding mid-sized town. Surrounded by wooded hills, mountains and rivers, it has become a destination for fisherman and boaters. Silent Hill is bisected horizontally by the lake. Because of this, the district of Paleville is in the northern area and South Vale is on the opposing lake shore. The town's weather is usually foggy and misty, as sunny days are a rarity.
As one approaches Silent Hill from the east along Nathan Avenue, also known as County Road 73, an Observation Deck can be accessed, providing a fine panoramic view of Toluca Lake and the surrounding woodland. A prominent welcome sign is also on display near one of the entrances, serving to welcome newcomers upon their arrival.
Silent Hill is divided up into three known distinct districts, each catering to varying demographics of the population. With each new game that explores the Silent Hill area, its layout typically changes, be it in the form of new streets, new buildings replacing old ones, or entire sections being added to it. This is seen in Silent Hill: Homecoming and Silent Hill: Downpour.
- Paleville - The northern section of town. It includes Old Silent Hill, Central Silent Hill and the Resort Area. A thrilling amusement park, Lakeside Amusement Park, is located in the Resort Area.
- South Vale - The southern section of town, first introduced in Silent Hill 2 and revisited in Silent Hill 3.
- South-eastern district - The unnamed district containing five suburbs, seen in Downpour.
Silent Hill is located in Maine, New England; Maine is the most north-eastern state of the United States of America. Although its precise location was ambiguous for a long time, several hints implied Silent Hill to be in Maine throughout the series.
- The Book of Lost Memories, as well as the instruction manuals for Silent Hill, Silent Hill: Origins and Silent Hill: Homecoming, all have stated that the town is located in New England.
- In Silent Hill: Homecoming, there is a bookshelf which contains information about mining towns of New England in Shepherd's Glen Town Hall.
- Inside of the liner notes for the Japanese release of Silent Hill 4: The Room's soundtrack, an address is given for Heaven's Night that would have placed it in Maine. The state abbreviation for Maine is "ME".
- After Harry Mason left Silent Hill, he and Heather Mason moved to Portland, also sharing its name with Portland, Maine.
- In Hiroyuki Owaku's (scenario writer of the first games in the series) Double Under Dusk, Silent Hill is placed in Maine. The two protagonists, Brian and Lindsay, are from Augusta and Orono, respectively.
- The Book of Lost Memories' timeline specifically notes "Maine becomes a state."
- In the trailer of Silent Hill: Downpour, a bus is seen bearing a Maine license plate.
- Additionally, a road sign bears the Interstate 95 logo, a highway that runs through and ends in Maine.
- In Downpour, when Murphy Pendleton is about to get on the transfer bus, Anne Marie Cunningham stops him. Her clipboard shows "Maine State Board of Corrections" on it. Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption is cited as an inspiration for Downpour, and its story is also set in Maine.
- In Silent Hill: The Novel, Harry feels he should have been enjoying the "Maine wilderness" with his daughter, rather than searching for her. Another sentence says, "If Harry recalled, about 25% of Maine's population identified as Catholic."
- For a timeline of Silent Hill, see Timeline.
Going back well before European explorers arrived in the Americas, Silent Hill's history is plentiful. A great deal of its past involves the various religious/occult rituals that had been conducted in the area in the past, and continue to be conducted in the present, usually, but not always, by members of the Order.
While Toluca Lake and the area around it has always seemed to be a place of strange activity, it seems that this activity can be separated into two distinct phases. The first is the series of events prior to the 20th century, such as it being under control of natives and the arrival of European settlers, leading to the founding of Silent Hill.
The second phase is a series of events beginning in the latter half of the 20th century, seeming to culminate, at present, with the events seen in Silent Hill: Homecoming.
The area in and around Silent Hill has a history going back over four centuries, before the time of England’s proper colonization of America. To the local tribes of Native Americans, the Toluca Lake area had been known as "The Place of Silenced Spirits", and was long considered to have a kind of spiritual significance and an air of mysterious power. It was considered to be a holy place, where many rituals were conducted in accordance with the indigenous beliefs. A particular tribe who worshiped a deity known as Kwekwaxawe referred to the area as Kwekwaxawe Kanesda, meaning "Nest of the Raven" in their native language.
With the first permanent British Colony instituted at Jamestown, it was only a matter of time before colonists would make their way to this "Place of Silenced Spirits."
The late 1600s saw the arrival of settlers who would force the indigenous people from their sacred lands. These settlers would remain in the area until the turn of the century.
In 1692, Jennifer Carroll was accused of witchcraft and burned alive by Christians. She would eventually become a saint of the Order.
At the start of the 1700s, nearly a century after British colonization of America began, an epidemic swept through the area surrounding Toluca Lake, including the burgeoning settlement that would, in time, become known as Silent Hill. With a large portion of the populace dead, the settlement was abandoned. It was not until after the start of the 19th century that resettlement began.
After a century or so, a penal colony was established near Toluca Lake. Named "Silent Hill" for the first time under its occupation by non-natives, it is unknown if the name was based on the original designation for the area. As a penal colony, both a prison and hospital were established. This led to the establishments of Silent Hill Prison and Brookhaven Hospital.
At this time, a second epidemic threatened the town. Brookhaven Hospital was put to great use during those dark times. Weakened by the newest bout of plague, Silent Hill Prison was closed around 1840, further diminishing the town. With the arrival of the 1850s, however, came the discovery of a coal field beneath Silent Hill. This caused a great resurgence of interest in the area and improvements in economy, leading to the revitalization of the town.
In 1853, four families left Silent Hill, going on to found the neighboring settlement of Shepherd's Glen.
In 1861, the American Civil War broke out, influencing the development of Silent Hill for the duration of the conflict. Patrick Chester fought in the war. During 1862, Toluca Prison was constructed as a camp for POWs, and was later converted into a formal correctional facility with the conclusion of the war.
Tragedy struck again when, around 1890, people began to mysteriously vanish from Silent Hill. At the turn of the century, Toluca Prison was closed, and Silent Hill was re-imaged as a tourist destination.
The final century before the new millennium seemed to bring with it the largest spike of strange activity yet to befall Silent Hill and the surrounding area. It was during this period that the Order, a cult that seems to have incorporated a combination of beliefs (including those of the natives), reached its influential peak, as well as what seemed to be the strengthening (and corruption) of the power that had long existed in the area.
Toluca Prison was closed down, and the Silent Hill Historical Society was built on its former site. During this time, the Wiltse Coal Mine was mined dry as well. With the prison no longer functioning and the coal mines closed, a new source of revenue was needed, and Silent Hill was reinvented as a tourist town.
During 1918, one of the first tourist accidents occurred on Toluca Lake; a ship known as the Little Baroness went missing and its fate was unknown. Strange happenings were fated to occur on the lake for the remainder of the century.
The first marked event of the latter half of the 20th century was speculation surrounding a series of consecutive deaths.
Occurring twenty years prior to the events of Silent Hill, staff members of a company responsible for promoting Silent Hill as a family-friendly tourist destination were found dead. Ruled as accidents, it’s currently unknown how close together the deaths were, though they most likely would have been days apart, given the sensationalism that surrounded them. Shortly after occurring, rumors began to circulate that the town’s religious cult may have been involved, though nothing was proven.
Six years passed before any other noteworthy events occurred, and even then, their significance wouldn’t be realized until the events of Silent Hill: Origins. This event was the birth of Alessa Gillespie. Alessa would affect many things and people in the area. With her strong connection to the paranormal, the area of Silent Hill would be stricken with what many consider a curse, seeming to attract those who hold darkness close to their hearts.
Two years after Alessa's birth, a young girl named Claudia Wolf was born. Both girls found camaraderie in their shared faith. Their relationship would play heavily into each of their respective fates.
Shortly after the fire that lead to Alessa’s injuries, a drug known as PTV began to circulate through the town. Derived from a local plant known as White Claudia, the drug was a source of income for all parties involved, chief among them being the Order. The largest customer base for the drug could be found among those touring to the area, and with cooperation from Silent Hill’s Alchemilla Hospital, large-scale production of the drug was implemented.
In an effort to combat its distribution, a formal criminal investigation began, with personal involvement of the mayor’s office following soon after. Both the investigator responsible for drawing attention to the matter and the mayor at that time would soon be found dead.
Appearances in the games
- Listed in what is assumed to be in chronological order.
Seven years prior to the events of Silent Hill, Dahlia Gillespie attempts to sacrifice Alessa to the Order's dark God, using a ritual meant to bring about the reincarnation of this deity. Unfortunately for the fanatical Dahlia, trucker Travis Grady happens upon the scene, and the events of Silent Hill: Origins unfold. With Travis staving off the Order's plans, Alessa is able to afford herself some time and fractures her soul. Given form, the other half of her soul is found as a newborn baby by writer Harry Mason and his wife Jodie. The infant, a girl, is named Cheryl, and the couple take it upon themselves to raise her as their own daughter.
Seven years after Origins, Harry and Cheryl are headed to Silent Hill for vacation. An accident, however, brings a swift end to the trip. When Harry comes to, Cheryl is gone. Thus begins Harry’s attempt to rescue his daughter, and stop the fanatical mission of Dahlia Gillespie.
Following Harry's ordeal, the Order seems to go into a type of remission, until a priest known as Vincent Smith begins to pump a large amount of funds into the weakened organization. Adherents increase dramatically, and the group gains tremendous support.
In an unrelated event, a group of seemingly unconnected people find themselves drawn to the once-quiet resort town. James Sunderland receives a mysterious letter from his deceased wife, telling him that she is waiting for him in Silent Hill. James comes to Silent Hill in search of her.
Seventeen years after Silent Hill, Heather Mason, once two halves made whole, is running an errand for her adoptive father, Harry Mason. While visiting a fast food restaurant in a mall, she falls asleep, and begins to dream of Silent Hill. Upon waking, she checks in with her father, and prepares to head home. Before she can leave, however, she encounters a private detective named Douglas Cartland. Revealing he was hired by the Order to locate her, Heather thinks him a stalker and flees. While wandering the depths of the mall, Heather comes across Claudia Wolf, a priestess of the Order.
At a point prior to the events in Silent Hill 2, Walter Sullivan, once raised at the Wish House Orphanage, goes on a killing spree, murdering ten people, before killing himself. Four years after his death, a victim, killed in a style mimicking Walter's, is found. At least seven others would follow.
Henry Townshend, living in Room 302 of the South Ashfield Heights apartments in the city of Ashfield, finds that his apartment door has been chained shut from the inside, and he cannot escape. Five days later, a hole appears in Henry’s bathroom.
Alex Shepherd find his hometown Shepherd's Glen corrupted by unusual paranormal happenings. After being ensnared by bizarre incidents, he comes to Silent Hill to unravel the truth behind the Order. In the 24 years since Silent Hill, Central Silent Hill has undergone much change:
- The shoreline of Toluca Lake has significantly receded inland.
- The Silent Hill Town Center has been replaced by Dargento Cemetery.
- Sagan Street has been divided in half by buildings so that the western half is now a cul-de-sac.
- Koontz Street is significantly shorter and ends perpendicular with Canyon Street.
- Artaud Theater, Acadia Road, Greenfield Apartments, and the Public Records Office no longer exist, as the land on which they were on is now underwater.
- In place of Cafe Sun and Green Pharmacy are Toluca Lake Water and Power and Koontz Limited.
- The northern-most half of Wein Street was integrated into east Sagan Street while the southern half is completely absent along with the buildings east of it, including Artaud Theater.
- Romantic Journey, The Mirage, Grand Master Book Store, Tea Room, and DYNA were demolished to make way for an illusion of Overlook Penitentiary.
Murphy Pendleton, a prisoner being transferred from Ryall State Prison to Wayside Maximum Security Prison, awakens in the woods outside of Silent Hill after the bus he is on crashes. He enters the town, hoping to avoid being caught near the crash. He explores Silent Hill, trying to find a way to escape, however, he must first confront his past before the town releases him. Meanwhile, a corrections officer, Anne Cunningham, goes through her own journey of self-discovery while seeking revenge on Murphy.
In Downpour, Silent Hill is a large town, or maybe even a city, even having a skyscraper known as the Centennial Building with a clock tower. The game takes place in an easterly part of the town, where there is a mix between forests and great ravines, and buildings and subways. Murphy can travel quickly through town by utilizing subway tunnels under the city.
There are five main suburbs (Hillside, Pearl Creek, Chastain Heights, Pleasant River and the Port District) and Murphy will not be able to initially access them all. The first encountered is Hillside, which is primarily a residential area.
Murphy can also complete 14 sidequests hidden throughout the town, which unlock clues revealing some of Silent Hill's history.
Silent Hill: Downpour is the only Silent Hill game to not feature a hospital; however, St. Maria's Monastery resembles the hospitals from one of the previous Silent Hill games.
The town of Silent Hill was re-imagined in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, which is set in a separate continuity from the main series.
Geographically, it appears relatively similar to Paleville from the original Silent Hill and it most likely also has a South Vale counterpart, though it is unseen in the game. Many areas and streets, such as Bachman Road, Levin Street, Midwich Elementary School and Alchemilla Hospital, were carried over and re-imagined as well. The western area is primarily residential and the eastern area is primarily business; a single bridge known as the Dixon Bridge connects the two districts. At the very northwest area located next to the Caldecotte Pond is a vacation spot with woods and lodges used for picnicking and camping.
Because of the present-day setting of the game, buildings and locations seen throughout the game are more modern than in the original Silent Hill. The town also has its own train railway system, known as the Freight Railway.
The exact location of this Silent Hill is unknown, however, there are subtle hints and clues that suggest where it may be located. At the very beginning of the game in the junkyard, there is a sign with New York cities written on it, indicating that it may be somewhere near New York. There is evidence of Silent Hill being in Michigan; in Diner 52, there are license plates and posters with "Michigan — Great Lake state". Further evidence suggesting the town is in Michigan is Cheryl Mason's ZIP code, which is also located in Michigan, specifically Grand Rapids, Michigan. "Route 66" is also shown on flags and throughout the café, suggesting that it may be in Illinois (also beside Lake Michigan); however, a phone call indicates Silent Hill is in Eastern Standard Time, while Illinois is in Central Standard Time. It may also be in Maine, like the main canon, as Cheryl holds a sign from Portland and John is staying in Massachusetts, also a New England state.
The power of Silent Hill
Having always been thought of as a place with unexplained powers, it was for this reason that the Native American tribes came to the area to begin with. With the arrival of colonists and the plague that followed them, this strange presence was seemingly warped and strengthened. This warping and strengthening would occur again and again over the next four centuries, until the immolation of Alessa Gillespie, which acted as a catalyst for the town's power, causing Silent Hill to begin attracting or "calling" to people with darkness in their hearts. It's uncertain if the town is truly sentient or if it merely acts as a mirror for people's delusions, fears, and vices to take shape.
During a conversation with Bobby Ricks, Murphy Pendleton offers the idea of hotwiring a boat rather than painstakingly locating the keys to the boat, Ricks tells him this is impossible. He implies through his dialogue that the town has some ability to mess with reality, and will create situations that will force an individual to continue along a designated path that the town appears to have decided. While Ricks never gets the chance to further an explanation, it can be inferred from his dialogue that the town, either through sentient control or due to other reasons, will hold a person inside the town until they have finished what they need to do to properly escape. If the endings of many of the Silent Hill games can be believed, successfully coming to terms with or dealing with the problems the victim of the town has, they are then allowed to leave, often with a new revelation about their life. This is related to "Full Circle".
Silent Hill is known to manifest itself into three different planes of reality; The Real World, the Fog World, and the Otherworld.
- Main article: Real World
The least explored world, ironically, is the real world of everyday life. It seems safe to assume that this is where the original, uncorrupted town of Silent Hill truly exists in a state of normality. It may be the version of the town experienced by Laura in Silent Hill 2.
In Silent Hill 4: The Room, it's possible to see the real world of Ashfield from the windows and the front door peephole of Henry's apartment, as the player can see a large, busy avenue from the bedroom window, and neighbors passing by.
While largely ignored in the games, the Real World figures rather prominently into the Silent Hill film. While Rose Da Silva, Cybil Bennett and Sharon Da Silva are all trapped within that film's representation of the Fog World and Otherworld, Christopher Da Silva and Thomas Gucci are searching for them in the Real World.
- Main article: Fog World
The most frequented of Silent Hill's worlds is the Fog World. With an unnatural fog rolling into town off of Toluca Lake, the streets of Silent Hill appear abandoned. Cars may lie wrecked along the side of the road, while buildings stand vacant and dilapidated. The most abundant form of life around are monsters, who roam about unhindered. Many doors found throughout Silent Hill are broken, preventing access to a great many of the buildings there. This may be a result of the town, leading those who come here to their fate, whatever it may be. In some instances, snow seems to fall from the sky (or ash, as in the film and Homecoming). It has been demonstrated that the Fog World is, more or less, uniform between character perceptions. Michael Kaufmann in Silent Hill makes reference to the snow being an oddity, given the time of year.
Another peculiarity lies within how many streets come to abrupt, unnatural endings. During the course of Harry Mason's visit, the roads fall away, replaced by bottomless chasms. However, during James Sunderland and Murphy Pendleton's visits, most of the streets are instead boarded up in an almost man-made way, with high walls covered in tarp, and in many cases, actual road blocks and wooden boards.
- Main article: Otherworld
The final and most dramatic world of Silent Hill is the Otherworld. Appearing different to each individual, the Otherworld can be seen as a symbolic manifestation of a person's psyche. For example, as generated by the mind of the badly injured Alessa Gillespie, Silent Hill has become incredibly dark and industrialized, with structures being composed of fencing, metal plates, fans, and piping. Smokestacks, windmills, and corpses also lend to the appearance of this world. Blood covers most things, if not everything, in this twisted world. This is considered the iconic appearance of the Otherworld.
Contrastingly, for Harry Mason in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, the Otherworld is encased in ice and snow, frozen over and glacial. For James Sunderland in Silent Hill 2, the town is merely a damp, dilapidated place, seemingly mired in a depressive state representative of his gloomy mentality. For Murphy Pendleton of Silent Hill: Downpour, the Otherworld is covered in bars, pipes, and lots of water, often with extremely bizarre and impossible building geometry.
The symbolism behind a particular representation of the Otherworld differs from character to character, with Alessa's injuries and fear of the Order lending greatly to her vision of the Otherworld, and Angela Orosco's hatred of her father and abusive childhood experiences creating hers (walls appear to be made of flesh with pistons thrusting in and out of them and it is "hot as hell", implying fire). Walter Sullivan had also created many Otherworlds through the Assumption ritual.
Silent Hill isn't the only area afflicted with this strange presence. On at least three separate occasions, locations outside of Silent Hill have become victims of this darkness. Shepherd’s Glen falls to this dark influence due to the breaking of a pact held between its founders and the old God, while Ashfield and Heather Masons's town both have areas overlapping with the strange phenomena identical to those of Silent Hill. This is most likely due to the influence of those with strong connections to the town.
The ambiguity of the Otherworld's existence has led to many theories, such as the characters affected by the Otherworld being transported to a parallel world, or the Otherworld being a hallucination projected by the power of Silent Hill in order to put the victim in their own personal hell, with the creators calling the Otherworld a "dream world".
Catharsis and Full Circle
- Main article: Full Circle
Catharsis is the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions. Silent Hill can be considered catharsis. If the catharsis is not complete, it may result in a Full Circle. Ordinary people with darkness and strong emotions (sins, guilt, or the inability to see the truth) in their hearts are "called" to the town.
Full Circle (a term coined in Silent Hill: Downpour) is a phenomenon preventing a character from escaping Silent Hill's power after either failing to learn the lesson they were summoned to learn, being unable to realize something important they have forgotten, or making a critical mistake during their experience in the town. They are subsequently trapped in limbo or in a cycle-like fashion, either within the town itself, or an area under its influence. Silent Hill calls out to people with darkness in their hearts, summoning those with guilt. It is very similar to being in purgatory, a recurring theme in the series.
- For a more detailed look at the inspirations behind Silent Hill, please see Inspirational works of Silent Hill.
- Many works have served to inspire the town of Silent Hill, as well as being inspirations for the series as a whole.
- Though the town of Silent Hill is presented as an American town, many of the maps and city layouts were borrowed from Japanese locales like Towadako and Tazawako.
- Many of the streets in the town are named for people who have had a large impact on the horror/suspense genre of movies and literature. Such homages include "Koontz Street" being named for author Dean Koontz, "Bradbury Street" being named for author Ray Bradbury, "Crichton Street" after Michael Crichton, and Bachman Road, which is named after Richard Bachman, a pseudonym used by author Stephen King.
- Originally, the first town in the game Pokémon Gold and Silver was entitled "Silent Hills". Although it is not entirely known why the name was changed, it has been widely accepted that the change was likely due to Silent Hill being released during the developing stages of Pokémon Gold and Silver.
- Downpour features an "execution" ending though Maine officially abolished the death penalty in 1887.
|Eric - Tina - Bill - Jessie - Ryan - George - Emilie Anderson - Frank Anderson - Michelle Anderson|
Hanna - Lorraine - Captain - Scott Fairbanks - Greys
|Creeper - Double Head - Greedy Worm - Gum Head - Hummer - Insane Cancer - Mama - Numb Body - Nurse - Phantom - Pyramid Head - Robbie the Rabbit - Scraper - Split Worm - Toadstool - Tremer - Tuberculosis|
|Brookhaven Hospital - Central Square Shopping Center - Jacks Inn - Labyrinth - Lakeside Amusement Park - Silent Hill Historical Society - Spiral Staircase - Toluca Lake - Toluca Prison|
|Flashlight - Fog World - Little Baroness - Monster - Otherworld - Radio - Real World - Siren - Welcome Sign|