Written by Jonathan Wojcik

A Silent Hill Monstrouspective:
The Dreaded Part Five.

The fifth Silent Hill was off to a shaky start from the beginning. For the first time ever, the series would be shipped outside Japan to be developed by an entirely new team, the U.S.-based Climax Studios, who felt the one thing missing from the series was even more combat, already emphasized perhaps a tad more than was necessary in Silent Hill 3 and The Room. The first monster ever leaked didn't show much promise, either; a zombie-like being that would have been much more at home in Resident Evil, but not exactly anything new or outstanding for Umbrella Corporation, either.

It was shortly after this disappointing glimpse that things took a mixed new turn, as the North American developers apparently ran into too many problems with their "confused, high-level vision" and shipped production to their United Kingdom branch.

The story goes that at this point, the game had become a "dark comedy" similar in tone to the TV series Scrubs, and I have to say, I might have actually really liked to see how that played out. It might have at least been a little more memorable than what the U.K. developers ultimately went with, which was certainly closer to the Silent Hill we'd all grown to love...but perhaps far too much so.

Where The Room experimented with something fairly new and different, Origins tried so hard to be like the first and second games that it ultimately lost its own identity, feeling more like an unremarkable retread of old territory and somewhat predictable plot twists.

So, let's take a look at this one's monsters, and exactly why they failed to make a big splash...


I think you may already know the answer to our question. Our protagonist this time around is a deeply troubled trucker, Travis, who breaks down in the worst possible town to be both deeply troubled and broken down in. A lonely truck driver seems like a ripe stooge for the town's shenanigans, yet the very first monster he encounters is this cheap, lazy rehash of the "popular" Brookhaven nurses.

The justification for the presence of these monsters is that, as a trucker, Travis is sexually frustrated. Kind of like how James saw sexy monster nurses because he was sexually frustrated, and Alessa saw sexy monster nurses because she was sad she wasn't going to grow up to be hot, or something, and Heather saw sexy monster nurses because she was also Alessa.

You know, there comes a point where maybe you just have to admit you keep putting sexy monster nurses in your game series because you're lazy.

The Lying Figure "Straight Jacket"

Oh boy, another rerun. Silent Hill wiki swears this is a different monster from the Lying Figures of Silent Hill 2, because this monster "seems to be trapped in a straightjacket of skin," while those monsters were "simply trapped in stretched skin." They also spit a ball of acid, instead of a spray of acid, and they aren't as "feminine." Amazing. It's apples and oranges, really.

The worst thing about these pale imitations is that they're found in virtually every single part of the game. The monster this team decided we should see all the time is a monster they essentially copy-pasted from a better game. Yikes.

And why does Travis see these monsters? He didn't smother his wife, like James did, but who cares. Things in straight jackets represent, like, "crazy" people, right? And those are spooky?

The Butcher

Thank the flesh manifestation of the concept of God that this wasn't just Pyramid Head. It actually could have been worse. It actually could have just been the same old pointy headed goon regurgitated into this game with no rhyme or reason.

So the "Butcher" is at least technically the game's first "original" monster. That's one step in the right direction.

It is still, however, a rather bland Pyramid Head proxy, with none of P-man's alien grace. Unlike that worm-tongued knife-dragger, Butcher really doesn't feel like anything more than a bad man in a scary suit, and goes around predictably slaughtering his fellow monsters. Whatever could that possibly symbolize, I wonder?

It's basically what you think. Rather than save this for the end of the article like it's at all interesting or special, Travis is quite possibly a cold-blooded serial killer, depending on which ending you get. No, Travis, you are the butcher! And then Travis was a zombie.

The Carrion

So, this monster is just a shoddy repeat of...


Wow. Huh! This is actually new!

It's new, and it's not half bad, either! Carrion is a large, four-legged animal carcass of ambiguous taxonomy - good, good - which unpleasantly drags its own blind head around on the ground - yeah? - and manifests from a vague impression of the mangled roadkill Travis passes by on long, lonely hauls.

YES. THAT'S IT. YOU DID IT! A unique, disturbing monster that ties in directly with our protagonist's subconscious! Was that really so difficult? Did the art team who came up with this cutie really need to steal from Team Silent at least three times to reach this point? Jeez.

The idea of a big, giant animal carcass pushing itself around, resembling no particular animal, is distinctly wretched and exactly the kind of thing I expect from this series. Finally.

The Caliban

From here on out, the monsters of Origins are certainly up and down in quality, but mercifully all-original, and it's just a shame they debuted in a title alongside such otherwise lackluster choices. Caliban here has a lot in common with the Carrion, resembling a huge and twisted carcass with its head low to the ground, but the Caliban is much more human in appearance, and worse yet, it's positively huge. It's bigger than a rhinoceros. A twisted, faceless humanoid isn't all that special for the series, but there's something distinctly unwholesome about scaling it up this much.

Unfortunately, Caliban's in-game model doesn't quite live up to its even more horrid conceptual art, its shaggy buffalo-like hide somehow turning its creep facter straight up to thirteen. Yeesh. How absolutely horrendous is the thought of this blind, hairy giant crab-walking down the street on its bloodied stumps. Even the copy-paste job on its skinned knees doesn't serve much to detract from the chills I'm getting.

You know, those kind of give an accidental impression of eyes, too.

The Ariel

From an up to a down, I'm really not feeling the Ariel. Babies are creepy, dolls are creepy, and upside-down things are creepy, but somehow this upside-down baby doll just...isn't doing it for me. It's too normal. I expect to see stuff like this in countless other horror series, where it might even stand out as reasonably unsettling, but it's a tad humdrum for Silent Hill, when the very last game already gave us cloaked, legless giants with two scary baby heads on them.

Ariel's hang from the ceilings and try to strangle Travis as he walks by, which was already done creepier by the Flesh Lips of Silent Hill 2. When brought to the ground, they try to jab at us with their arm-legs, which was also already scarier when it was done by a Silent Hill 2 monster, the Mannequin.

Ariel, if you hadn't guessed, represents how Travis had a bad childhood. Whatever.

The Remnant

This is a reasonably interesting attempt at a more unusual, disorienting monster, for sure. The remnant can be identified only by its shadow and the hovering, metal restraints where its body should be. It's a neat gimmick, but like Ariel, it doesn't feel quite "alien" enough for Silent Hill, and a bit too much like your standard "haunted house" fare. The symbolism here also manages to be ambiguous, yet blunt at the same time. Any way you can interpret the remnant - a manifestation of psychological imprisonment, a lack of self identity, etcetera - feels a little yawnworthy. How about something a little weirder?

The Two-Back

...Uh, maybe not that weird?

To be honest, I actually kind of want to like "two back," despite the fact that it's absolutely ridiculous, completely over the top and impossible to take seriously. Whereas you could actually miss the theme of sexual frustration throughout Silent Hill 2's monsters, this thing practically crams it down your throat like a big, fat, ripe banana. This is literally a doggie-style monster, named "two back." If I hadn't known they completely tossed it out, I'd have thought this was a refugee from that rumored "dark comedy" draft.

But, like I said, part of me still wants to take this monster seriously. Am I not always swearing up and down that "silly" things can still be or even be exceptionally frightening? Perhaps the problem with two-back is simply that it feels laughably excessive for silent hill, but might have been cool in some other setting where it blends in a little better.

Sad Daddy

Our last three Origins monsters are all boss battles, and I have mixed feelings about this one. Sad Daddy is the distorted memory of our hero's awful father, of course, and it takes the form of basically an entire meaty room decorated in assorted body fragments, one of which is more worm-like than human.

It's...a serviceable design. It's not straying too terribly far from what we've seen in other Silent Hills, but there's still just something a little "off" about it. Maybe its components look too much like mutilated human bodies, rather than an otherworldly monster closely approximating mutilated human bodies. Perhaps it also looks a little too "feral," a little too "gnashing demon" for a Silent Hill monster. Beings like the Glutton, Fleshlips and Closer were already disturbing as hell without any snarling, chompy ghoul-teeth.

I think maybe they could have also come up with a less giggle-inducing name for this thing.


I feel a little better about your awful mom. She's still a little silly, and still a little too human, but I suppose not much moreso than the final boss of Silent Hill 2, which she clearly homages to some degree. She would still work far better if her body was a little more abstracted, her anatomy more indistinct, but I love the thing she's suspended in. the bizarre, hanging metal contraption with its ghostly plastic curtain calls to mind both medical and torture equipment, but doesn't actually look like anything from the real world with any truly discernible purpose, which is definitely a step in a Silent Hillier direction. I give momma a B overall, but an A for fashion sense.


...Aaand we've tumbled right back down the slope again. This is the final boss of Origins? I'm not bashing the design or the artist, since it certainly tries to be something, but that something feels more like a lower-tier enemy from a game like Doom or Diablo. A game more interested in simply pumping your adrenaline than chilling your spine. It's a "cool" monster, I guess, but it is not a creepy monster. It's mere "scary" in the way a rabid wolf or a guy with an oncoming train is scary. It's a "threatening" creature maybe suited to some sort of action-adventure narrative, or an album cover featuring chain-mail bikinis and exploding guitars.

I suppose I can get the intention, here, to throw something really different at us and perhaps intentionally more "down to earth" than entities like our crappy parents up there, but it basically looks halfway to a devil Halloween costume you could buy at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, and I can't believe something finally got me to make a comparison to Halloween in a negative context. How dare you, Origins.

Unfortunately, what we've seen here is a portent of things to come. Thus far, subsequent Silent Hills have been had just as difficult a time finding the right style and mood, particularly when it comes to their monsters, alternating between content that tries far too hard to be edgy and content that simply doesn't live up to the standards that defined the whole appeal of the property.






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