Before I present my list, it is worth noting here that you won’t see moments from any entries that weren’t made by Team Silent. That is simply because, in my opinion, Team Silent’s entries (i.e. Silent Hill 1-4) are superior. Unfortunately, I feel that the subtle elements aimed at creating tension in the early entries were largely replaced by somewhat shallow attempts to frighten the player. What Team Silent presents are scares that make you think, and, in my opinion, that is what makes the early Silent Hill games more successful at delivering true horror. Thus, without further ado, here are my top 5 most frightening moments in the Silent Hill series.
5. Robbie the Rabbit through the peephole (Silent Hill 4). As I mentioned before, what is genius about this and many other Silent Hill moments is subtlety. Throughout the first half of the game, you are able to check on Henry’s next door neighbor Eileen Galvin via a hole in his living room wall. However, once Eileen has an unfortunate run-in with serial killer Walter Sullivan, there is essentially no need to peer into her room. However, if the player chooses to look through the peephole once again, he or she may notice that Robbie the Rabbit, a stuffed animal first introduced in Silent Hill 3, is now pointing in Henry’s direction. Before that moment, Robbie is slumped in a chair and looking down. I describe this moment as subtle because it can be easy to miss. More importantly, there is no dramatic music sting or any other over-the-top attempt by the game to highlight this moment. The player simply sees the stuffed animal pointing at them, and yet this moment is unnerving. What is Robbie pointing at? Could he be signaling Henry’s impending doom?
4. The Alleyway (Silent Hill). Perhaps the first iconic moment experienced by many fans of this series, journeying through this area serves as the first clear indication that something is seriously wrong with the town of Silent Hill. The player experiences dizzying camera angles and a transition to utter darkness. Things go from bad to worse when Harry Mason, the game’s protagonist, stumbles upon a corpse hanging on a fence and is subsequently attacked by humanoid demons. Altogether, these elements provide a feeling of despair that is only amplified as the game goes on.
3. Pyramid Head’s introduction (Silent Hill 2). It is difficult to forget this moment. I’ll also mention here that his introduction in the second game was far superior than that in Homecoming. Once again, the theme is subtlety. For those of you unfortunate (or fortunate) enough to have missed this moment, allow me to describe it for you. As James Sunderland explores a dark apartment building, he immediately hears a scream. As he investigates the source of the noise, his radio begins to emit static, indicating that an enemy is nearby. Further ahead in the corridor James is investigating, he and the player will see a dull red light glowing in the distance. As James approaches it, he’ll realize there is a figure standing behind a set of bars, donning a large pyramid-shaped helmet. Pyramid Head, as James aptly calls it, simply stares at James. The game doesn’t present over-the-top music or an overly dramatic cutscene as Homecoming did for this ‘boogeyman’. This simple and subtle in-game intro for one of the most iconic antagonists in Silent Hill’s history is simply perfect and needs nothing more.
2. Hospital Storeroom Mirror (Silent Hill 3). Essentially an optional room, Heather Mason is confronted with a massive mirror that provides her reflection. Though that alone may not be overly frightened, Heather soon learns that the door behind her is locked. All she can do is stand there and watch as her reflection becomes covered in blood. Perhaps the most frightening aspect is that eventually, the reflection stops moving, becoming a still and bloody picture staring deeply at Heather. It is at this point that Heather may escape. Nevertheless, seeing the bloody reflection is a memory that Heather and the player won’t soon forget.
1. Pyramid Head and the Mannequins. (Silent Hill 2) Not just a terrifying moment but a disturbing moment as well. Upon first playing Silent Hill 2, this scene was incredibly jolting, and when I realized what was happening, I was speechless. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had never before seen anything so grotesque and raw in a video game before. The torture that Pyramid Head forced the mannequins to endure simply shook me to my core. Without giving too much away about the scene, I will simply say that the scene is made all the more disturbing thanks to the fact that it is symbolic of an aspect of James. If you haven’t seen it yet, I will warn you that it is not for the faint of heart.
There you have it. As I said before, Silent Hill is full of memorable and frightening moments. What are some of your favorites?