What is Silent Hill About?
Contrary to popular belief, Silent Hill is not just about Alessa Gillespie, although she is the main focus the first game and movie. (Click HERE for an explanation of the Silent Hill movie and HERE for Silent Hill Revelation 3D.)
Silent Hill is a town somewhere in the United States that through centuries of blood shed, occult magic and tragedy has taken on a life of its own. Throughout the series, it has been located on the East Coast of the US but its effects have been known to spread to nearby towns or wherever its chosen victim is. Those who are “chosen” by Silent Hill are trapped in the town’s abandoned, foggy streets and forced to battle monsters based on their own inner fears and guilt. Because the fears are custom tailored to each person, characters will encounter different monsters than someone else or see a different environment altogether. This is attributed to multiple dimensions. Whether the monsters are actually people is often up for debate and implied a few times throughout the series.
Sometimes, characters are transported to a dark, rusted metal or decaying version of the town called “The Otherworld.” Fans recognize this change with the sound of an air raid siren, although it is not always present. In most cases, characters do not have control over when The Otherworld takes over, and would simply appear there as if waking from a dream. This concept was greatly influenced by the film, Jacob’s Ladder. In the 2006 film adaption, the Otherworld consumes the town at seemingly random times and the air raid siren is used as a warning to residents. (“The Darkness is coming!”) Since the film, players have been able to witness the town transform in real time. In the game, Silent Hill: Origins, Travis Grady has the ability to enter The Otherworld at will through mirrors. To date, he is the only character in the franchise who can do this.
The main concept of Silent Hill is that someone has forgotten something terrible – perhaps something they did – maybe they’re looking for someone – but whatever the case may be, the town has such sights to show you…what would YOUR monsters look like?
That’s Silent Hill in a nut shell! If you just discovered our beloved town, WELCOME!
Played the games but are still foggy? Watched the movies and want to learn more? Here’s what you need to know about Alessa…
Based on multiple play-throughs and research, we’ve compiled the following Silent Hill Story Explanation for you. This timeline of events covers Silent Hill, Silent Hill 3 and Silent Hill: Origins, i.e. the Alessa timeline. The 2006 Silent Hill movie deviates considerably from this timeline and is considered an alternate universe in the franchise. As Tina from Bob’s Burgers would say, “NON-CANONICAL!”
This explanation is based on information gathered throughout the game, multiple endings and my own personal theories. Needless to say, this page is chock full of spoilers. Read at your own risk!!
Silent Hill Story Explanation (Alessa Timeline):
Silent Hill started like most American towns; conceived in bloodshed and nurtured with idealism and ancient tradition. Founded on sacred Indian ground, pagan rituals and superstitions were the norm. Its settlers brought with them a dark religion worshiping pagan gods, most notably their main deity, Samael. This cult, calling themselves The Order, is made up of many of the town’s important public figures. They believe that they will begin the second-coming by summoning Samael in the flesh, via birth by an Order member. Whosoever becomes the mother of “god” will lead them all to Paradise “with blood-stained hands.” Since their god is a vengeful and violent one, physical abuse, particularly against children is common.
Dahlia Gillespie comes from a long line of Order members and is well-respected in the cult. She’s a fanatic and will stop at nothing to bring about the second coming of their beloved Samael. Her daughter, Alessa is a sweet and loving child, but has inherited some powerful magic of her own. It proves to be her curse, however, as she is picked on at school and called a witch. Signs of abuse have resulted in reports to child protective services, particularly by Alessa’s teacher, K. Gordan, but the Order’s influence silences all claims. Due to her abilities, Alessa is selected as the intended mother of “god” at only 7 years old. The more Alessa develops her powers in an attempt to please her mother, the more Dahlia sees her as a mere tool for evil, toying with the child’s affections for her own propaganda…
Children of Order members are trained in their religious beliefs along with a number of orphans through the Wish House and Hope House. The Wish House is run by a sect of The Order that believes “god” will be summoned through the 21 Sacraments rather than physically reborn. Alessa’s best friend growing up is a girl named Claudia Wolf, who eventually grows envious of Alessa’s important purpose in the church. Claudia is physically abused by her father, Leonard, which only fuels her hatred.
Meanwhile, Silent Hill is spotted as an ideal vacation spot. Quaint and peaceful, all it needs is a little development and viola – you’ve got a tourist trap. While the foreigners come through with their blueprints and glossy advertisements, the cult of Samael slips into the shadows and out of sight. They hold their masses in secret, in the back of the Green Lion Antique Shop, Brookhaven Hospital, Alchemilla Hospital and other private locations. Everyone kind of “hushed up about it”, as Lisa puts it later, but Samael’s second coming is not forgotten…
The cult of Samael practices the use of hallucinogens for meditation and prophecy. As Native American tribes used peote to induce visions, the cultists use White Claudia. This plant does not grow in the Silent Hill region, so it must be shipped in secretly. This task is given to Dr. Michael Kaufman, director of the Alchemilla Hospital, his friend and fellow cult member Norman Young (proprietor of the Hearby Inn) and distributed by employees of the Indian Runner store. They ship in the flowers, refine them at the hospital laboratory, then distribute them back to the cult of Samael. The three make a secret deal and begin selling the White Claudia powder to tourists in the area. Dr. Kaufman and his lover, a nurse named Lisa Garland are both addicted to the drug. The cult is unaware that Dr. Kaufman has been selling their White Claudia on the side, but overdoses result in an investigation by the police department. To help the investigation, the SHPD solicits the help of nearby Braums, where they begin an undercover operation. Cybil Bennett is assigned to the case, while Officer Gucci goes undercover as a dealer.
Dahlia and members of The Order decide that the best way to bring Samael forth is through pain. Since their deity is said to be born through fire, young Alessa is purposely burned nearly to the point of death. (Note: in the British version of the game, a note implies that the fire itself was an accident. Watch Twin Perfect’s explanation HERE.) However the fire started, Alessa does this willingly to please her mother, but is unexpectedly rescued by Travis Grady, a truck driver passing through the area who sees the Gillespie house burning. When Travis passes out from smoke inhalation, Dahlia takes Alessa to Alchemilla Hospital, where she is hidden away by Dr. Kaufman. Alessa is successfully impregnated with Samael, but the ritual was interrupted and thus, she is not reborn. Dahlia casts a spell on Alessa to keep her alive and she is injected with daily doses of White Claudia to let her pain make the spirit of Samael stronger.
Rumors quickly spread that Dahlia’s child has died, so she plays along. From that point on, Dahlia’s erratic behavior is attributed to the loss of her daughter. Alessa, meanwhile, is secretly housed in the old sanitarium that runs underneath Alchemilla hospital. Lisa Garland is assigned to care for her. She is sworn to secrecy, but does not know much herself. What she does know is that Alessa should not be alive. Her wounds do not heal and disturbing things start to happen in the room. Unable to talk about the case, Lisa turns to her diary and a video camera to record her concerns. It is often speculated that Lisa steals Alessa’s medication because she’s addicted to White Claudia.
Alessa is alone, save for the medical care provided by Lisa. As her torment and inner conflict with the presence of Samael collides with the hallucinogenic properties of the White Claudia, Alessa begins to have horrible, gruesome fantasies…mutilated bodies and a torture school for children. Flying monsters and skinless dogs…her visions mix with the power growing inside of her. She has to escape. Alessa separates herself into two entities – the burned girl in agony at the hospital and a ghostly version of herself that can move freely through Silent Hill. The ghostly version uses Travis Grady to retrieve all the pieces of the Flauros; a puzzle box that can trap demons. She does this in exchange for revealing the truth about his parents’ deaths, although he doesn’t enter into this agreement willingly. Travis collects all the Flauros pieces and reassembles it, stopping The Order’s second attempt at Samael’s rebirthing ceremony. The weakened god appears, but Travis is able to defeat it. As a reward for his help, Alessa allows Travis to leave Silent Hill.
Alessa once again separates herself two sides into separate entities – the last of her innocence is poured into the body of a baby while her burned self remains with the soul of Samael, an unwitting prisoner in the hospital. The baby is cast just outside of Silent Hill, where Dahlia cannot harm her. Alessa, meanwhile, is forced to remain in constant agony in her room. Dr. Kaufman, after seeing the gruesome effect of White Claudia in test subjects, creates an antidote – the Aglophotis. (Note: Aglophotis was a real potion used to dispel demons in Ancient Greece and mentioned in the works of H. P. Lovecraft.) He keeps one vial in his office and another hidden in the gas tank of his old motorcycle just in case…
Harry and his wife have a wonderful vacation in Silent Hill. On their way out of town, however, they discover a baby girl by the side of the road, on the outskirts of the local cemetery. No one can say where she came from. That being the case, the couple is allowed to adopt her. The girl is named Cheryl and brings great joy to her adopted mother. When Mrs. Mason passes away, Harry is devastated. He is left to raise Cheryl on his own and this little girl becomes his only link to his beloved wife. He does not take Cheryl to Silent Hill, as the memories are still too painful.
SEVEN YEARS LATER…
Cheryl is now seven years old. Although smart and sweet, she begins to act differently. She has isolated herself from the other children, has frequent nightmares and draws disturbing pictures of monsters and mutilated children. She is especially frightened of hospitals and runs from anyone in a wheelchair. Harry is considering therapy for his young daughter when he remembers his late wife. When it seemed they were at the worst of times, they went to their favorite vacation spot…Silent Hill.
It’s dark before Harry and Cheryl reach the Silent Hill exit. Cheryl is sleeping, still clutching her beloved sketch book. Harry is lost in thought, replaying Cheryl’s actions in his mind. Is someone abusing her? Where did she really come from? Is therapy really the answer? If only his wife was still here…
Officer Gucci has died of sudden heart failure. He had no history of heart disease, according to Coronor Seals’ report. Considering his investigation and an anti-drug mayor dying under the same circumstances, Cybil Bennett suspects foul play. Not long after, Silent Hill has cut off all communications with Braums. Fearing the worst, Cybil sets off without authorization, in search of her partner…she passes Harry in his jeep, then sees it–a teenage girl wandering in the street. She seems delusional and perhaps hurt. Cybil lays the bike down and runs to her aide…only to watch her disappear…
Cheryl wakes up before her father does and wanders into the fog. She knows this place from somewhere; a dream, perhaps. Despite the summer season, snow begins to fall… Suddenly, she feels as if some part of her was missing until now and she knows where to go. Harry desperately tries to stop her, but Cheryl is no longer herself…she runs into the alley and past a wheelchair, no longer afraid of it. She must find Alessa.
Reunited with her other self, 14-year old Alessa gains full power and finally escapes again! The town begins its horrible transformation…her hallucinations become reality, fueled by the hatred and poison in her body. Harry follows the vision of his daughter into an alleyway and it begins to transform – blood and flesh cover the walls – little monsters emerge from the shadows, wielding knives. They look like children – the children who teased her! The monsters attack Harry and he is powerless to stop them. He falls to the ground, then suddenly wakes up in a cafe. Was it all a dream? Cybil Bennett is standing there, and questions him about his business in town. She decides to help Harry find his daughter, and lends him a firearm for protection. It isn’t long before he needs it, as Alessas’s fantasy monsters erupt on the scene! Alessa, trying to stop the inevitable birth of Samael, places the Seal of Metatron around Silent Hill.
Dr. Kaufman realizes what has happened and knows he is in over his head. He begs Lisa to leave with him, but she pulls away angrily. She demands to know what has happened to the girl and what this is all about. She threatens to blow the whole thing open…Dr. Kaufman can’t let that happen…it would destroy his career and any chance of escape. He grabs a heavy instrument and knocks Lisa out, then locks the door behind him.
Dahlia knows that Kaufman has double-crossed her. He is marked as a traitor. Dahlia breaks into Kaufman’s office and finds the Aglaophotis, shattering its contents onto the floor…now no one can stop them! Harry later finds the remains and saves some of the mysterious liquid.
Dahlia does uses gyromancy and sees that Harry is looking for his daughter. She sees that he is determined and quick-thinking. She decides to let him find Alessa, leading him to believe that she is the enemy and that finding her will lead him to Cheryl. She rings the bell at the church to lure him there. Harry is given the Flauros, which will capture Alessa now that she’s free. Dahlia lies, telling Harry that the Seal of Metatron is actually the Mark of Samael and that he should stop Alessa from finishing her quest.Alessa still feels a great love for Harry. He has loved and protected her other half for so long, she hates to see anything bad happen to him. Alessa wants Harry to know the truth, so she leads him to important locations in Silent Hill, gives him the key to the K. Gordon house, etc. The two dimensions of Silent Hill are reflective of the half controlling it. The fog and snow, although creepy, is significantly less threatening than the dark, industrial wasteland. Cheryl influences this world, while Alessa controls the dark, rainy nightmare.
Harry reaches Alchemilla Hospital just in time to catch Dr. Kaufman leaving. He seems like a shady character and just wants to get out of there…after braving the secrets of the hospital, Harry finds Lisa. The bump on her head has given her temporary amnesia, but she is desperate to remember the truth.
Harry finds the “other church”, where Cybil tells him that she saw Cheryl walking on air…after consulting with Lisa, he finds a way through the sewer to find her in the resort town… We run into Dr. Kaufman again, who got jumped at Annie’s Bar. Perhaps he was trying to find Annie, another accomplice, only to find her murdered? Kaufman rushes back to his motel room to fetch the spare Aglophotis he hid in his motorcycle.
In an attempt to help, Cybil gets knocked out by Dahlia and slapped on the back with some White Claudia. She is instantly infected by the evil parasite that plagues nurses and doctors throughout the hospital. Harry is given a choice at Lakeside Amusement park…use the antidote or kill her?
Harry, by now, has discovered that he is not crazy – that these two worlds are colliding. When he finds Alessa, the Flauros takes control of her and renders her helpless again. Dahlia then confesses that she used Harry to capture her and they are transported to the site of Samael’s planned rebirth…
Lisa’s memory returns and she remembers her part in this evil plot. She visits the basement and discovers her diary. Harry discovers the video tape. “I’m just like them,” she cries, referring to the nurse and doctor monsters. “I just never noticed before.” The combination of White Claudia in her system and Alessa’s visions cause her to transform and Henry flees the room.
Dahlia is now ready for Samael’s return. The hospital basement has been transformed into a hellish grating, fire licking
up through the openings. Dahlia stands with a weakened Alessa/Cheryl combined and Alessa’s burned half, wrapped and helpless in a nearby wheelchair. Harry confronts Dahlia, only to 1) witness Alessa’s siege of power and murder of her mother or 2) Samael’s rebirth, who kills Dahlia. (Either way, Dahlia is screwed) Dr. Kaufman shows up in the ‘GOOD’ ending, throwing the Aglophotis onto Alessa to end this once and for all. It extracts Samael from her body, but she puts up a fight. Harry kills the demon and Alessa returns to her human form, dying.
Once more, she casts her life into the form of a baby (Samael fetus and all) and hands it to Harry, the man she calls father. She then opens a portal so he (and Cybil, depending on your ending) can escape. Lisa rises up in her transformed state and drags Kaufman down to his death, revenge for his part in this evil plan. Harry runs out of the portal and back into the fog, desperately clutching the baby. He knows that Cheryl died with Alessa and with them, the only link to his wife. Now he is left with this new child in his arms…but is she a complete soul?
Harry knows that this child could potentially bring about the rebirth of Samael again. He considers killing her while she is so small. No one would ever know…but the memory of Cheryl returns and Harry begins to love the child once more. He names her Heather and raises her as his daughter. Harry keeps a journal so that Heather knows the truth some day. He still has a few remnants of the Aglaophotis from Dr. Kaufman’s office and molds it into a pill form. He places it into a necklace as an option for his daughter in case “god” returns and gives it to Heather for her birthday. She has no idea what it contains or why.
The Order has never forgotten their beloved Alessa and are always trying to get her back. Harry and Heather move a lot and are constantly on guard. Heather doesn’t understand why people are after her, but on one occasion, Harry kills an Order member to protect her.
Over time, it seems as though the Order has forgotten the mother of “god.” Heather has no memory of Silent Hill and Harry likes it that way.
Seventeen Years Later…
Heather is finishing up a fun day at the mall when she’s approached by Douglas Cartland, a private detective. He’s been hired to reunite Heather with her family. “Someone wants to talk to you,” he says, “it’s about your birth.” Harry didn’t raise no dummy – Heather knows better than to talk to strangers and loses the P.I. through the women’s bathroom. When she returns to the mall, everything has changed – monsters roam the halls and everything is cast in blood and shadow.
Claudia, now a Priestess in The Order, appears and is happy to see her childhood friend. “Remember me and your true self as well.” She says. “Also that which you must become. The one who will lead us to Paradise with blood stained hands!” Heather is suddenly overwhelmed by deafening white noise. When she recovers, Claudia is gone.
Heather’s journey home takes her through the mall, subway station and construction site next to her apartment building. Along the way, she remembers snippets of her childhood; particularly that children used to call her a witch.
She meets Father Vincent, a member of The Order who doesn’t agree with Claudia’s methods. He tries to help Heather, but finds it amusing that she is so confused. His comments imply that while Heather is killing monsters in The Otherworld, she is killing people in reality. This concept horrifies her, and he quickly claims to be kidding. Vincent tells her that if she can get the Seal of Metatron from Leonard Wolf, Heather can stop the rebirth of Samael.
When Heather finally makes it home, she finds Harry dead. He’s been murdered by a Missionary creature, which is still lurking outside. Heather defeats it as Claudia watches with delight. She knows that Heather’s hatred for Claudia will strengthen Samael, who still lives inside her. It is Claudia’s visions, not Alessa’s who control Silent Hill’s Otherworld.
Douglas Cartland follows Heather to her house and is saddened to see her tragic loss. He offers to drive her to Silent Hill to get to the bottom of things. Heather swears revenge and that she will kill Claudia. On the way, she reads Harry’s journal and learns the truth about who she is.
Heather explores Brookhaven Hospital, where a creepy admirer named Stanley leaves her presents. He calls her and sings her Happy Birthday but says he forgot her name. Heather finds a shrine to Samael and pours blood on it, opening a passage to where Leonard Wolf resides. He is the keeper of the Seal of Metatron and upon defeating him, Heather regains control over it.
Returning to Hope House behind Lakeside Amusement Park, Heather further remembers who is is. Alessa was continually worshiped after her disappearance and her soul split only added to her legend. She confronts Claudia about her evil plans but doesn’t kill her. Vincent shows up and tells Claudia that Heather has the Seal of Metatron. Unfortunately, since Alessa never finished her ritual in Silent Hill (thanks to the Flauros), the seal was never granted any power.
After Claudia kills Vincent, Heather opens the necklace that Harry gave her and eats the Aglaophotis. This works as planned and she throws up the fetus of Samael. Horrified, Claudia eats it and transforms into her vision of “god” – a deformed deity resembling Alessa. Newly born, Samael is again weak and Heather is able to defeat her once and for all.
Heather emerges from Silent Hill, knowing her true identity and free at last. She decides to take the name “Cheryl” in honor of her father.
Although Alessa’s story line is often presumed to be the cause of Silent Hill’s multiple dimensions, it is in fact just one of many stories. The town is affected by centuries of tragedy and magic, and has taken on a personality of its own; “calling” people to it and revealing dark truths long forgotten. Silent Hill reflects the repressed memories and worst fears of those who are called to it.