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date: 27 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. The 1999 survival-horror game Silent Hill features a grotesque soundscape that engages the player in terrible mind games. By underscoring the ways in which the industrial noises of this game haunt various borders—between diegetic and non-diegetic, real and virtual, lingering and ephemeral, organic and mechanical, surface and subdermal, instructive and manipulative—this essay frames its soundscape as an uncannily animate monster in its own right: abject, liminal, and always potentially transgressing against players’ bodies and inhabited spaces. Underpinning these considerations are broader investigations into the aesthetic economies of fear—namely, the frightening efficiency with which the minimal sounds (and overall reductive aesthetics) of horror media can often evoke maximal terror.

Keywords: video games, noise, monsters, horror, fear, industrial music, the uncanny, aesthetic economy, anthropomorphism, minimalism, repetition

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