Before Silent Hill became a horror film, it was a survival horror video game developed by a team at Konami named Team Silent for the PlayStation in 1999 — but the Silent Hill town is based on a real place. The game utilized a foggy atmosphere to inhibit the player’s vision while they control Harry Mason on the search for his missing adopted daughter. Its unforgettable landscape and horrific features spawned an entire franchise of films and video game sequels. While the horror video game is well-known, its true story and the actual location are rarely recognized. There’s a real town — the town of Centralia, known online as The Real Silent Hill, Pennsylvania — which inspired Silent Hill‘s aesthetic.
In 2006, Christopher Gans adapted the Silent Hill games into a psychological horror movie. The film follows Rose (Radha Mitchell) as she takes her adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) to the town of Silent Hill, West Virginia. Sharon screams the town’s name in her sleep, which causes Rose to take her there. As the two arrive, they are involved in a car accident, and Sharon goes missing. As ash and fog roll over Silent Hill, Rose searches for her daughter only to discover that the town is overrun by demonic entities, a cult, and shifts between layers of reality. The Silent Hill true story is a little stranger than fiction, as it’s partially based on a real town.
The True Story & Real History of Silent Hill
There’s a surprising — and disturbing — Silent Hill Pennsylvania link that’s led a town in the state to become known online as the real Silent Hill. While the environment of Silent Hill seems as though it could only exist in nightmares, it is a very real place with a devastating history. The town of Silent Hill West Virginia, is actually Centralia, Pennsylvania. In May 1962, the city ordered to have the local landfill burned in an attempt to clean up the waste. The fire spread through unsealed tunnels and openings that led to an abandoned coal mine. This, ignited a fire that burns to this day and is why Centralia became a Silent Hill Pennsylvania-based inspiration.
Local firefighters could not cease the burning, and the government quickly decided that the town of Silent Hill needed to evacuate for their safety. Just as in the film, the air in Centralia is dangerous, and it is recommended people do not expose themselves to the environment for long periods. While most people left, a few stayed, hoping that the fire would stop. One of the only remaining buildings is a church that is still in use. The Silent Hill town is very similar in this regard, as only a few citizens remain in Silent Hill West Virginia, and continue to attend church services.
In 2002, the United States Postal Service suspended the town’s zip code, and all roads leading into Centralia have since been barricaded. The Silent Hill true story follows this history almost to the exact detail, except in real life, Centralia is not plagued by a cult, witches, or multi-dimensional monsters like Pyramid Head. The impressive attention to detail in the aesthetic of the movie — the most visible evidence of the Silent Hill Pennsylvania link — speaks to the severity of the historical incident. Silent Hill’s use of the town as inspiration further emphasizes the true horrors that happen in real life.
Did The Silent Hill Movies Actually Work?
The first Silent Hill movie came out in 2006 and was helmed by French director Christophe Gans. While the film opened to mixed reviews, it did well enough to spawn the sequel Silent Hill: Revelation in 2012 — although this time under director M.J. Bassett’s (Ash vs. The Evil Dead) watch. The first movie follows Radha Mitchell’s Rose Da Silva, who is on her way to see a specialist about her daughter’s sleepwalking problem. She ends up getting in a car crash and finds that her daughter Alessa (Jodelle Ferland) is missing, leading her to the mysterious town of Silent Hill. The events of the first movie follow similar storylines to the games Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2, and Silent Hill 3.
The first movie definitely worked as a video game adaptation, as Gans tried his best to maintain the integrity of the film’s source material. Many shots were taken straight from the video game, and Silent Hill‘s creatures were made up to look and move exactly like their counterparts. On the other hand, Revelation didn’t stick as closely to the game. While it did try to follow the events of Silent Hill 3, the same look that Gans had created was scrapped for something else. The sequel’s connection to the original Silent Hill movie was slim, and it seemed like Bassett’s rendition was more focused on the 3-D spectacle of its release, rather than the actual film.
There’s A New Silent Hill Movie Coming
There’s a new Silent Hill movie in the works, and this one will follow the events of the video game Silent Hill 2. The film, titled Return to Silent Hill is a reboot to the 2006-2012 franchise, and will be helmed by the first Silent Hill film director Christophe Gans. He recalls that the first film was a fond memory for him, and that the only reason that he didn’t return for Silent Hill: Revelation is because his personal vision did not match that of the producers.
Silent Hill 2, the videogame (complete with the famous Silent Hill air siren), follows the widowed James Sunderland as he returns to the cursed town after receiving a letter from his dead wife to come and find her there. The next Silent Hill movie is reported to be entering production sometime in 2023 (via Deadline). There is no casting or release date news yet, but it has been revealed Pyramid Head will make a comeback. The Silent Hill true story is certainly a creepy one, being just scary enough to inspire a very successful line of Konami games, and now, movies too.