At one point, the characters of Silent Hill effectively end up questioning both the nature and presence of the monsters. Upon Harry’s arrival at the examination room of the Alchemilla Hospital in SH1, Dr. Michael Kaufman wonders about the Flying Reptile that had made its way inside and that he has just killed. He says: “Something’s gone seriously wrong. Did you see those monsters? Have you ever seen such aberrations? Ever even heard of such things? You and I both know, creatures like that don’t exist!” In SH2, James often makes quick references to the monsters and even asks Eddie, during their first encounter, if he was a “friend with that red, pyramid thing.” Sick on the floor, Eddie answers that he doesn’t know what James is talking about, but says, “I did see some weird-lookin’ monsters. They scared the hell outta me.” The monsters are repulsive and generate nonempathetic emotions. Because their abnormality is linked to our human nature, they are in a good position to kindle our imaginative speculations. As Vorobej observes, “The true object of fascination in horror isourselves, and the human condition in general. Battling monsters is a highly veiled odyssey of self-exploration. A monster’s description must be significantly inchoate if each of us is to imprint his or her personal psychic concerns on the fiction” (1997, 239). The imprint has a particular overtone in SH3 during a chat between Heather and Vincent, a priest of the Order, in the church’s library: vincent: You’re the worst person in this room. You come here and enjoy spilling their blood and listening to them cry out. You feel excited when you step on them, snuffing out their lives. heather: Are you talking about the monsters?
vincent: Monsters … ? They look like monsters to you? (Heather grumbles.) Don’t worry, it’s just a joke. The characters in Silent Hill certainly see the monsters from their own emotional and moral viewpoints. The scenario writer Hiroyuki Owaku has commented, “Some philosophies explain that what you see is not necessarily reality. What you are seeing may not be what I’m seeing. The same is true of the monsters that you encounter in the game… . Maybe they are human beings just like you, maybe even your neighbors. What you see might be true or false” (in Beuglet 2003). This duality always introduces a certain amount of doubt about what is being seen, as well as some bewilderment regarding the “undeniable ‘kill to survive’ motivation” at the core of horror games (as noted by Rouse , quoted in the previous chapter). As important as it may seem, the monster does not exist for its own sake. The paradox of horror, is for Carroll, sorted out this way: “In order to account for the interest we take in and the pleasure we take from horror, we may hypothesize that, in the main, the locus of our gratification is not the monster as such but the whole narrative structure in which the presentation of the monster is staged” (1990, 181). Although curiosity drives most narratives, the horror story is explicitly driven by it “because it has at the center of it something which is in principle unknowable” (182). Knowledge and discovery are important themes, and suspense a key narrative element. “Most horror stories, including the most distinguished ones, tend to be elaborated in such way that the discovery of the unknown (voluntarily or otherwise), the play of ratiocination, and the drama of proof are sustaining sources of narrative pleasure in the horror genre” (126). Therefore, Carroll states, “The disgust that [the horrific monsters] evince might be seen as part of the price to be paid for the pleasure of their disclosure” (184). To reiterate, his curiosity theory has been discussed comprehensively; but in regard to survival horror and Silent Hill, his comments may be viewed in a new light. To begin with, and it is the most obvious change that needs to be underlined at once, the video game literally involves a cognitive engagement, a play of...
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