Let’s be honest. How many times during an average day do you say ‘Oh I wish life was more like Silent Hill?’. If it’s any more than zero then we have a very serious problem. For most of us, it’s preferable to have a screen between the real world and the air raid sirens, twitching nurses and industrial mannequin factories and, of course, that’s exactly why Universal Studios have decided to rip down the barrier between gamers and their darkest nightmares for their annual Halloween Horror Nights.
When night falls, the happy theme park atmosphere disappears and is replaced with the sound of screams and this is the first time a videogame has been used as source material for horror mazes at both the Orlando and Florida Universal Studios theme parks. Running since mid September and finishing on Halloween night, Horror Nights are advertised as too intense for children and filled with live performers known as scare-actors that fill the horror mazes and the darkened pathways in between. Over the years, movie legends such as Norman Bates, Jason Vorhees and Freddy Kreuger have all had dedicated scare zones. With the movie sequel appearing in cinemas at the end of the month – a coincedence of course – it was about time that Americas most unfortunate (and foggy) town had a chance.
We got an exclusive chat with the man behind the horror, creative director at Universal Studios Hollywood John Murdy, to find out what it’s like to turn our pixelated nightmares into a reality. “The world of Silent Hill is so vast. One of the biggest challenges was deciding what environments and characters from the games we were going to focus on, ” he explains. “I spent a lot of time talking to Konami and engaging Silent Hill fans on Twitter as to what were their favourite aspects of the series to insure we included the fan’s favourites. I also did a ton of research on my own, read every page of the Silent Hill wiki site, listened to every single piece of music from the games and brought in Silent Hill gamers to consult with. We got to work directly with the games designers to insure important elements from the games were included in the attraction.”
With plenty of well placed Robbie the Rabbits and live performers jerking through the darkness of the house as Nurses, the experience is a horribly faithful recreation of the franchise. “It’s a different type of horror, more subtle and creepy,” says Murdy. ” I love the idea of walking through the town with only a flashlight which is something we’ve incorporated into the lighting for the attraction. The audio design is also very creepy, so we’ve spent a lot of time deciding what music and sound effects to use. The attractions we create for Halloween Horror Nights are very sophisticated, movie quality sets, multi-channel audio…It’s great to be able to use elements from the game and turn it into a live experience. Ultimately, we want the fans of Silent Hill to feel like they are living the game.”
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