Intertextuality between video games and cinema

Although it may not at first be apparent, there are many intertextual links between films and video games – and what’s more, it goes both ways. Although many films that use intertextual links between them and video games tend to be strictly relegated to adaptions, so the link between them is obvious and used to garner more fan attention, there are intertextual links that video games take directly from films.

In the late 90s many video games began to create more games geared towards an adult audience, and with it they also began to shift towards a more adult way of presentation, and as such many games began nodding towards cinema, novelists, and other such materials. This was both to simulate the maturity that video games now wished to present – to get many of these references pre-internet; one would have to have consumed these texts in the first place. They were also a way for many game designers to nod towards their influences, inspirations, and truly, a form of flattery for those concerned. There are numerous examples of intertextuality within video games.

Many aspects of Silent Hill, for example, are direct nods towards Steven King novels – there are posters for The Shining, and one of the more obvious nods would be the ever-present mist, an obvious nod to a King work. A more obvious link towards film within Silent Hill would be the presence of Valtiel, who’s shaking head, is an obvious nod to the infamous Jacob’s Ladder scene.  There are also many other examples present within the film, many linking to popular horror culture. This would have the double whammy of also creating a sense of inclusion for the audience as many of these aspects were present directly as nods towards horror-culture, and obviously the main target audience of these films would be those who enjoy horror.

Of other PSX-era games, there are many other intertextual links. Resident Evil, whilst not directly linking towards any other texts – except, perhaps, the works of Romero in the obvious presence of zombies – used many cinematic camera angles. This was done both to emulate cinema, and to heighten dramatic effect as before the game was released, very few games used cinematic-styled cutscenes or angles. Although the fixed angle may have presented several gameplay issues, it in itself was widely praised and the games set the benchmark for years to come, especially in terms of the use of cinematic stylings for video games.  
The use of cinematic framing in Resident Evil heighten atmosphere, suspense, and deliberate inclusion as a nod to the genres that the game was alluding to. Resident Evil was in itself a tribute to American action films, and used camp dialogue, over-the-top-action and horror by the way of a tribute towards the genre. It was archetypal, but also mocked the archetypes and featured many quotable lines such as “You were almost a Jill sandwich” (although this was down to poor translation). Here are several examples of aforementioned angles, in use within the game.

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Here, in a shot from the original Resident Evil we have an example of a mid-shot being used for dramatic effect – the zombie is shambling towards the player character, and the use of a mid-shot not only aids the player who can see how close they are to becoming a zombie take-out, but directly mimics cinematic shots. It was a fixed angle, so would not move for the entirety of the scene. This angle would then zoom into the hallway from an over-the-shoulder perspective to heighten audience empathy with the character, and include them directly in the narrative.

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In this screenshot from Resident Evil 4 the angle, is again, an over-the shoulder shot although this time the camera has panned out to reveal both main characters and uses a tilt to create a sense of imposing fear, and danger, in relation to the church. This would increase suspense, alludes to the threatening state of the church and creates the sense that the church is looming over Leon – he is dwarfed by it. This creates fear and tension, and more actively makes it easier for the player to shoot any Ganados (the monster within the game) they encounter.

A cutscene within Resident Evil 4 also directly links in with Jaws. In it, you are being pursued by Del Lago, a giant newt.  The use of a chaotic camera, and shots including the infamous Dutch Angle creates a sense of confusion, and many of the scenes themselves are direct tributes to Jaws, which obviously features another giant monster in a body of water. Initially the shot uses a point-of-view shot to show that Leon is being hunted by something, a device used here to emulate fear and to portray the perspective of the monster you will soon be hunting. It is also a dramatic example of using a POV shot to create tension, suspense, and fear and this angle is in itself a direct link to Horror films; film such as Predator have previously included similar shots.

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Yet again, another obvious link between film and gaming would be present in the form of Lara Croft, who is a female hero – one of the first to grace player screens – and an obvious nod towards Indiana Jones, another hands-on treasure hunter with attitude. Other games within the PSX era that seek to emulate cinema, and cinematic styled angles include Final Fantasy VII (and VIII), Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and Metal Gear Solid, which deliberately alluded to films within its text. MGS was perhaps the most obvious allusion, with its main character being Solid Snake, an obvious allusion to Snake Plissken.  He even [in later games] dons an eyepatch.

Within the PS2 era, with improved graphics and the ability to include fully animated cutscenes came more improvements to the intertextuality present, and video games widened their links to cinema. The most humorous, perhaps, was the penultimate scene of Jak 3; an obvious nod to the Wizard of Oz. Other inclusions to the Jak series also had not only cinematic allusions but dynamic camera angles which followed the player character as they walked, and mimicked tracking shots. This has the effect of drawing the player into the action and keeping the flow of the game steady and paced.

A lesser known game, Forbidden Siren 2, deliberately emulated B-Movies and horror films in particular and as such included a grainy filter upon the majority of its cutscenes. (I apologise for the god-awful dub in this video, there was no Japanese-language/English sub walkthrough available on YouTube). Much in the way that Tarantino included “pixel burn” and grainy filters in his Grindhouse films, these games included similar aspects to create a specific feel.  Although not directly intertextual with any film specifically, as many b-movies only had poor production values because of budget concerns and available equipment at the time, the grainy filters evoke a certain feel and fit in with the “found footage” aspect of this genre. Indeed, Forbidden Siren is one of the only video games to directly emulate found footage for a horrific aspect – although you do have the choice to swap between first and third person perspective within, so this in itself is a tenuous link.

Much in the vein of Resident Evil, Final Fantasy X included many fixed camera angles to focus upon character reactions, background scenery or specific events.

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In this case the camera shot is a close-up to show the reactions of the two main characters – Tidus and Yuna within a suitably emotional cutscene, intended to heighten audience empathy with the scene, as well as increasing the emotional connection between the audience and the player characters.

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In this FMV (full motion video) the shot is a mid-shot, close enough to show the reactions of the characters but also far enough zoomed out for the company to not only show off their superior graphics engine (which has always been a major selling point of the game) but heightens both setting and atmosphere of the film.

Many other examples of intertextuality are present within video games, both directly in the form of tributes to genre/inspiration, and indirectly through the use of cinematic camera angles and filters. 

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Silent Hill 2 Thematic Analysis

The Silent Hill games are notorious for their broad range of psychological themes, present mostly in the presentation of the monsters, which changes from game to game. In the original, the monsters are indicative of a little girl’s fears; in 2, they present the sexual frustrations of the main character; and in 3, they again, represent fears, albeit in a different form entirely. The latter is, of course, linked with the original Silent Hill. In addition to this, the concept of the Fog and Otherworld present interesting thematic material – and how an entire town can be haunted, the literal embodiment of evil. Another question posed in the series is that of the following: is Silent Hill even real or are the monsters you are killing real people, the events within all part of some delusion? The theories surrounding the games themselves are based largely on audience interpretation, and multiple themes come into play in several of the games. Silent Hill practically established the survival horror genre as we know it today, and though the vastly more popular Resident Evil may have paved the way, none is so imitated as Silent Hill.

The lore and mythology of Silent Hill itself is long and convoluted, and a strange mix of Western and Eastern mythology, the child of a Global society where cultures blend into one another. Though the setting of the games is the titular Silent Hill, a stereotypical American town akin to those you may view in films, the lore is much different. Much like the similar franchise, Fatal Frame, Silent Hill features strange monsters inspired by Eastern lore and myths – specifically those of the Yurei, a vengeful spirit that remains in situe long after its death. Whilst Fatal Frame features ghosts, the entire town of Silent Hill has been tainted by Alessa Gillespie, who draws characters into the town, and indeed the entire town itself is often viewed as the embodiment of evil. Alessa Gillespie’s portrayal in the video games – that of a gaunt, long-haired young woman, is the embodiment of the Japanese Yurei, as seen in The Grudge, The Ring, and many other J-Horrors. This mixture of American culture and Japanese horror creates a hybridised horror genre and draws from plot devices, and archetypes, from both. And although many of the themes covered in Silent Hill, those of loss and love, are universal motifs, they are done in a distinctly different manner to the archetypes of American horror. The consequence of this is that it brings further fear into the game, as audiences are lulled to a false sense of security by the familiarity of the setting, which is then turned on its head by the strangeness of the horror and the ambiguity of the scenarios. The fact that there is no one answer to the questions Silent Hill evokes brings further unease to an audience used to straight-cut endings and explanations at every turn.

Perhaps the most obscure of the games is Silent Hill 2, which features many obtuse and strange characters and monsters, as well as a meandering plot and as such, the entire game may well be viewed differently by different audiences. Many theories abound as to the meanings behind monsters, the actions of characters, and this openness to interpretation is what hooked audiences in the first place.  Of the many characters, monsters, and settings present within the series, 2 does not continue the storyline of the original, bringing an entirely different set of characters to the table. Indeed, several aspects of Silent Hill 2 go entirely against the canon present in the original instalment. Whilst the original instalment suggested that the entire reason Silent Hill was tainted was because of the actions of a cult, and their abuse of a particular child, the child herself is not present in Silent Hill 2 in any form, and whilst evidence of the cult is present, the plot distances itself from the original. This puts doubt upon the entire narrative, which twinned with the fact that the player character is the embodiment of unreliable narrator, in turn puts doubt upon the entire story.

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The presence of evil in the original is justified, and explained, through the presence of Alessa, but she is nowhere to be seen in 2. This creates doubt for the player character, especially considering how James is later presented – is the entire game a hallucination on his part, a delusion? This, twinned with multiple ambiguous endings, makes Silent Hill 2 one of the best instalments in the series, to date.

The protagonist of the game – James Sunderland – and his development as a character throughout the narrative presents much food for thought. We first encounter James in a dingy bathroom, surveying his reflection and contemplating the situation he finds himself in, lost, and very alone; he is even somewhat faceless, obscured in shadow. This as an initial presentation is interesting, as he is at this point, intimidating to look at – glowering at himself, he is presented as damaged, alone, an everyman. The themes of self-reflection, and discovering one’s true self are recurrent in this game, and the series as a whole as every character has ventured to Silent Hill and eventually uncovers something about themselves that they had previously hidden, some repressed memory. The mirror itself could be an apt metaphor for self-reflection, as James looks at himself, yet still hides away from the truth; the James in the mirror is very different from the James we come to discover throughout the game.

James himself is not portrayed as an unreliable narrator right from the very beginning, but there are vague allusions to this present right at the very start. A letter from his dead wife, which eventually fades as the game goes on, is first read here – James even doubts himself, asking himself why he is in Silent Hill, calling himself crazy. The presence of mystery pills, and his insistence that he must go to Silent Hill despite the road being blocked off further allude to his rapidly eroding sanity. He is desperate.  The subsequent fading of the letter throughout the narrative further puts into doubt his real intentions, as does the eventual revelation that his wife died three days ago, not three years ago as is stated by him, and at James’ very hand. Could the three years James means really be the three years of Mary’s illness, and she was really dead to him long ago, the statement a justification of a murderer?

Although his actions at the start of the game may not be narrated by someone completely unreliable at this stage, his actions, the actions of us, the players, can be put into question as the game progresses. He slowly becomes more unreliable, and other characters within the game become more aware of this as the time goes by. Other characters are present both to add to the ambiguity, and to contribute to the narrative devices, making things clearly evident for the audience.  James is of course a murderer, but that is not something Eddie, who accuses James of being “just as bad”, knows at this point. Neither does the audience, for that matter, so this cutscene is also a narrative device. The ambiguity of the statement puts doubt in the audiences’ mind as to the real status of the “monsters”, especially considering that there are dead human bodies littered throughout Silent Hill. Is James killing monsters, or people? The human cries the monsters emit upon being slaughtered further puts this doubt into the audiences’ mind – and this point is raised by a character in a later instalment. Vincent later says, in Silent Hill 3, in response to Heather’s inquiries about the monsters she has seen, “they look like monsters to you?” This in turn puts doubt upon the sanity of every character within the Silent Hill series.

James becomes steadily more unreliable as the game progresses – Mary’s letter disappears, as does his photograph of her. This further emphasises that the monsters he encounters may be the start of an elaborate break down, or worse, real people he has killed. This status as an unreliable narrator further hits home the point that James is not as innocent as he appears, nor as sane. In turn, this puts the events of the game into question as the time goes by – they become less believable, more strange, more ambiguous, and the game becomes less real, more delusion, as time goes by. Of course, this is only a possible reading.

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The idea that the monsters of the game are a hallucination are further emphasised by the presence of dead bodies, all clad in James’ own clothing. James is viewing himself dead, or perhaps, wishing himself dead – this links in with the perceived canon ending, wherein he throws himself into the lake after discovering the truth. A different reading to this could be that one of those bodies is James himself, and he is indeed in a form of purgatory – the presence of religious paraphernalia, in the form of cult objects, backs this up. Several characters exist to antagonise James – Laura frequently teases him and Maria the physical double of Mary also taunts him. Silent Hill, as an entire town, and with the presence of an alternate reality, is a form of punishment for evil sinners – calling them in to punish them.

The alternate reality in question, the ambiguously named “Otherworld”, is full of grotesque imagery, of walls made from skin, bodies strung up in torment, and lots of violent, harsh imagery – such as barbed wire and death is a constant in this world. The presence of the Otherworld is often thought to present the warped dimension that the original residents of Silent Hill are trapped in, as punishment for their treatment of Alessa. This is revealed in the first game, and this idea carries through into subsequent sequels. The idea that the Otherworld is now open, tormenting sinners regardless of their connection to Silent Hill, appears in several sequels. The fact that the Otherworld is full of hellish imagery, and symbolism, backs up the allusion that James is undergoing a form of divine punishment, albeit punishment from the Gods of Silent Hill.

Several other characters in the narrative are also portrayed as insane as the game progresses, so there is the alternate reading that Silent Hill itself turns people mad – the only person saved from this is Laura. Laura is a little girl, the very embodiment of innocence: blonde, blue-eyed, tricked into thinking Mary is still alive, and seemingly unable to see the monsters. Only she escapes by the end of the game (in the canon ending). Indeed, the monsters are different to each character; whilst James sees nurses in low-cut tops that emit womanly cries as he hits them, Angela sees burning fires [also a form of hellish iconography] and embodiments of her father’s sexual abuse. Eddie doesn’t like to talk about what he sees. This further emphasises the point that maybe Silent Hill is a type of purgatory for the characters, their punishment for the evil deeds they committed, before they are all eventually killed. They are all, after all, murderers.  The presence of Pyramid Head, a strange and cruel monster who antagonises James throughout, is again testament to this. It would appear that none of the characters within Silent Hill 2 are mentally stable, and all of them equally unreliable. There is no reliable narrator present within the narrative, the entire game is a construct based around unreliable narration and no character can really be trusted, so the events of the entire game are questionable.

The monsters within the game are equally horrific, represent different things to different character and often have something to say about their mental state. The monsters present within Silent Hill 2 are all based around the mindset of the main character, but only because we as the audience see things from their perspective. James sees many monsters that could be construed as sexual [from mannequins made of legs, to nurses in low-cut tops], to represent his sexual frustration and lack of satisfaction during the months leading up to his wife’s death. Later on, when he is sucked into Angela’s delusion, he witnesses her fears – the monster represents her father’s rape of her. There is no one clear-cut form of Silent Hill; it gives different versions of monsters for each character. We can only elaborate upon what other character see.

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Perhaps the most interesting monster within the narrative is Pyramid Head, who never directly harms James, only monsters around him. He is portrayed as a large, hulking, angular monster, the very embodiment of violence. One of his first appearances within the game is during a scene in the apartment block – he stands at the end of the corridor, just out of reach, observing James, and from here on, represents James’ judgment. Perhaps James himself incurs Pyramid Head’s wrath, through his relentless guilt regarding Mary’s death. Pyramid Head is thought by many to represent an executioner; clad in a blood-stained apron, wielding a great knife, sent to punish James for his crimes. Indeed, the monsters do not stop harassing James till he accepts that he killed his wife.

The first interaction with Pyramid Head is shown through a grotesque cut scene in which he kills and possibly sexually assaults two “female” monsters, whilst James, a voyeur to this scene, watches. Just as the audience watches the scenario of the game unfold, at this point, James too becomes a voyeur. From here, he attacks James several times, but never kills him, choosing only to kill Maria several times, Maria who is the physical double of Mary, but also the exact opposite. Her death is violent, he pierces her through the heart with his large sword (which could be construed by some as a metaphor for sexual assault), whereas Mary’s death was relatively peaceful; she is smothered with a pillow. Maria acts as the exact juxtaposition to Mary’s constant presence throughout – sexually available to James, healthy, forthcoming, and physically present, and her death too, serves as juxtaposition.  The fact that Mary is resurrected, only to be killed again, several times throughout the narrative further intensifies the helplessness James feels, and his inability to protect those he cares about from things that harm them. Mary’s presence could itself be indicative of the punishment James feels he deserves, as in a way he is seeing his wife (or a lookalike, anyway) being murdered over and over.

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There are various themes present within Silent Hill 2; one of the most prominent of these is the loneliness present throughout the entire narrative. Although Silent Hill was once a tourist resort, it is now closed down, desolate, and lonely. James, once so full of life and love for his wife, is now alone- he ventures into Silent Hill alone, and though he meets characters along the way, remains alone for the majority of the game. Of the companionship he receives, it is very brief, and culminates in history “repeating itself” in a sense, as he is forced to witness the murder of his wife’s body-double time and time again. The other characters in Silent Hill are also alone. Angela’s parents are dead, Eddie has no friends, and Laura only serves to torment James. One of the first truly engulfing, and lonely, moments of Silent Hill is right at the start, where James runs through the forest, which overshadows and eclipses him. He runs for what seems like hours, right through to the town of Silent Hill; shops boarded up, a place of happiness reduced to a ghost-town. Silent Hill is a literal ghost town – filled with ghosts, and isolated in solitude. This loneliness is prominent throughout the entire game, and often James finds himself in the dark, the literal representation of his madness and solitude. The fog also alludes to the feeling, evoking a sense of claustrophobia, and isolation. It is clear that James will not receive help nor support in the town, and several of the characters work against him, fearful of him.

The theme of rebirth, whilst recurrent throughout the series, is relatively untouched during this instalment. Although in a sense, Mary is reborn through Maria, there is very little else of this theme present in the entire narration – the closest we come to this theme is during the penultimate scenes, where James battles either Mary or Maria, in the form of an angry, vengeful spirit. However, the theme of grief is touched upon more in Silent Hill 2, as it is grief that drives James to Silent Hill initially, grief that eventually drives him to suicide. Grief is also what drove the other characters to Silent Hill. Guilt is also further touched upon, as guilt is prominent throughout as another key motivation for the actions of the characters. Guilt is the reason James is so intent upon uncovering the truth, the reason Pyramid Head relentlessly pursues him, and again, a reason as to why he kills himself.

The canonical ending, in which James kills himself after learning of his murderous side, comes as a shock to the audience. It seems no character within the narrative is safe from the wrath of Silent Hill, which eventually drives all to death. This adds to the sombre tone of the game, and as the full content of the letter is revealed to the audience only as James dies, heightens the emotional impact of the scene. James is revealed to have hidden the truth from himself, and in a heartfelt apology, his wife wrote him one last letter before she died. The emotional connection with James, his questionable motives for killing his wife, and the subsequent emotional “big reveal” only emphasises the grief, as we the audience have bonded with the character we controlled. That he has killed himself (in a possible ending), is made all the more horrific due to the emotional connection we bore with him.

Silent Hill 2 Scene Analysis

Silent Hill is perhaps one of Konami’s most lucrative franchises, ironic considering that it was created by a team who were going to be booted out of Konami, yet created one of the most emotional, and interesting, video games to come out of the survival horror genre. It was one of the first games to invest in an emotional storyline where the audience felt connected with the characters, rather than sole emphasis upon plot. Open to multiple interpretations, and genuinely scary, although recent installments have dwindled in success and quality, the original four or five games are as beautiful as any art. Silent Hill 2 is perhaps their most popular installment, and tells the story of James Sunderland, who travels to the eponymous town to find his dead wife, and, in typical Silent Hill fashion, uncovers a lot more.

As many of the cutscenes are short, I will here analyse several opening cutscenes. This FMA (full-motion video, a type of video game cutscene, generally of a higher quality than in-game cutscenes) was also known as the teaser trailer for the game Silent Hill 2. The non-diegetic soundtrack is “Promise”, a song on the game’s soundtrack, recorded specifically for this introductory video. The purpose of the video is to introduce the scenario and main characters – namely James and Maria – to the audience, along with introducing monsters, and several other background characters to draw and advertise the game.

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The first shot shows Maria, sitting behind bars, from a mid-shot. This automatically puts the audience in James’ position- it is a form of direct address, and she clearly knows something about the character she is addressing. Furthermore, her relaxed posture and revealing clothing suggest that we as an audience are familiar with her, which deepens the emotional connection to the narrative. The personal touch to her speech, and the information she relays also furthers the connection. Her speech introduces us to the ambiguity of her character; she resembles Mary, James’ dead wife, and speaks of their shared memories together before revealing that she is not all that she seems. This theme is recurrent throughout the entire game, and so introduces the audience to this concept, as well as acting as a hook. Emphasis is put upon her manner of speaking to deepen the impact and emphasis and so there is a lack of soundtrack at this point. The scene then swiftly jump-cuts to James’ reaction to this, again from a mid-shot, that is also shown over Maria’s shoulder. This is a common technique used to simulate conversation. This also serves to assert Maria’s dominance over the conversation, as even when she is not talking, she takes up most of the frame. James is simply confused.

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During the penultimate exchange in this scene, the camera slowly zooms in on Maria, showing her reaction in greater detail, and again putting emphasis upon her – there is no over-the-shoulder shot here. This establishes her as the important character within this exchange, as well as the one in control of the situation. James has no control, he is bemused, confused, and so the conventions that would be used here (over the shoulder shot) are instead flaunted. This final exchange also establishes the main scenario of the game, making it familiar to the audience and introducing them to the main plot. Through this conversation we learn that Maria looks like Mary, a person close to James, and the plot of the game is set into motion to familiarise it with an audience. James’ final statement: “aren’t you Maria?” is emphasised through the use of a close-up shot, showing how upset he is by all of this, and establishing him as the addressee, and main character of the game. This has the dual impact of introducing the scenario, as it is clear he is searching for someone.

The colour scheme used within this scene is very dull, and the filters used on-screen give a grimy, foggy feeling to the entire shot. The only colours to stand out are the top Maria wears, which is red, simultaneously putting emphasis upon her lustful tendencies, and impulsive nature. James, on the other hand, is dressed in very dull clothing that blends into the background of the scene and asserts his everyman nature.

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This shot then fades through to fog, an important aspect to Silent Hill, before revealing the name of the game. Following on from this, there is a zoom-out, to a mid-shot, to establish the scene and again, the colours used here are very dull. From there, there is a fluid shot, full of movement, of an incredibly ambiguous item – this again would act as a hook for the audience, who will be drawn in by the narrative, and the appeal of wanting answers. This scene is repeated several times throughout, increasing the suspense. From there, there is a shot of a hospital bed, establishing one of the key themes of the game; Mary’s hospitalisation. This shot is sepia in tone, and this is done both to evoke a sense of nostalgia, and as an emphasis upon the dull palette and grimy detail of the game. Hospitals are also a horror archetype, establishing the genre for a new audience.

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Throughout these scenes, there is a filter similar to that of a hand-video recorder present. This is included both to simulate home-made footage (which is intrinsically linked to the plot) and to create an amateurish feel, and thus, a more personal feel. As the audience, you could almost have recorded this yourself. The next scene, that of an actual home video, establishes the game’s lore for the new audience; “this whole area used to be a sacred place”, as well as establishing that Mary, mentioned previously, is sick. This scene is shot in place and white, to create a sense of bleakness and depression, as well as to simulate real home recordings. The entire shot is intercut with shadowy footage of James carrying someone, possibly a body, to an unknown location, creating dramatic suspense and further reinforcing the horror aspect.

There are several other shots of Maria, displaying key plots within the game –the first meeting and the argument – which further introduces her character, as well as linking her to that of Mary and inferring that Mary is dead. Interestingly enough, the only characters emphasised within the opening portion of the video are female, displaying, perhaps, James’ issue with women. This scene then cuts to show the supporting characters, Angela, Eddie and Laura; following on from this are several scenes inferring that supporting characters may well be mentally unstable, with similar dark tone, a sudden change from the dull colours previously shown. The colours during this scene are incredibly dark, the faces obscured, which again establishes the genre as horror, by introducing a traditional horror archetype – darkness.

By the end of the trailer, the video has come full circle, showing Maria, once more, and further establishing her flirtatious ways with a close up shot, fully displaying her intentions to James. All the main characters have been established, as has the setting and scenario of the game.

The Bathroom Scene can be viewed here.

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This first scene establishes James as the main character, showing him as pensive and reflective – both literally, and metaphorically, as he looks at himself in the mirror and then sighs remorsefully, whilst asking himself a question. The music at this point, obviously non-diegetic, is strange, and surreal, just as the filters overlayed in the scene do not feel realistic. The scene jumps from close-up to mid-shot, arcing over from a Dutch angle to fully set the camera straight for a moment. This is done to emphasise the confusion of the scene, how lost James feels, and also to portray the bathroom – it is shown as dirty, littered, and this establishes the scene of Silent Hill to an audience familiar with it. By the end of this scene it has once again moved on to a Dutch angle and the camera has panned across a full arc. At this point James addresses himself, asking himself a key question: “Mary, could you really be in this town?” His confusion is mirrored in the angles used during this shot, which are deliberate in that they are used to portray confusion. The constant movement of the cameras emulates this, as it is disorientating and confusing for the audience.

At this point, control is given momentarily over to the player, so that they can get used to the controls and move James out of the bathroom, and into the car-park, setting off another cutscene.

The Car Park scene can be viewed here.

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This cutscene begins with James, mid-shot, showing him stood alone. This scene emphasises how alone he is, and how alone he feels, and eventually zooms out to create an establishing shot of the town of Silent Hill, and more importantly, Toluca Lake, which is James’ first destination. This also acts to show that James has come here alone, whilst he ruminates on the letter that drove him there. The aforementioned letter is read out, in non-diegetic (or possibly diegetic, if James is thinking about his wife’s voice) by Mary, who is never seen. This creates a connection with Mary as a character, as though you do not interact with her, you have now heard her voice, and personal dreams, creating a more human and emotional character. You can instantly connect with her. This scene also portrays how desolate, and alone, Silent Hill is, and how alone James is. He stands alone in Silent Hill, thinking about his wife, which links back to the first scene wherein he wonders about her whereabouts. At this point the soundtrack, also non-diegetic, changes from surreal to emotional – the music, once synthesised, is now a string instrument, an instrument traditionally associated with sadness.

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The entire shot that follows is an extreme long shot, portraying James as small, insignificant, swamped by both the town, and his emotions. It is here that he sets the scene, establishing the basic motives, and location of where he currently is. This is done to make it obvious to the audience as to where they are, and what they are doing, and is clearly a form of goal-setting. Furthermore, the internal dialogue the audience can hear (in which James is talking to himself) creates an emotional connection with James, as his grief is witnessed for the first time. This grief is emphasised with the use of a stereotypically “sad” instrument, along with an internal monologue where he thinks things over and reveals personal information, creates empathy for him. James’ grief, after losing a loved one, is something all can empathise with, and at this point he is a sympathetic character. The audiences’ emotions are manipulated by the scene itself. At this point, the town is not scary, but sad and desolate, reflecting back in James’ emotions – the town is, to an extent, an extension of him, and when he later loses his mind, the town becomes more horrific.

After this the character once again gains control and begins guiding James on his journey, encountering the first of the supporting characters along the way, and creating a vague sense of unease through the gameplay.