The 2006 horror film, Silent Hill, was partially inspired by the town of Centralia, PA. The film itself is an adaptation of the Silent Hill video game series which was first released by Konami in 1999.
Silent Hill was directed by Christophe Gans and written by Roger Avary, Christophe Gans, and Nicolas Boukhrief. The three began adapting the video game series into a film during 2004. Avary later revealed that while imagining an unsettling location for the film’s story, he was inspired by Centralia, Pennsylvania.
According to Avary, he heard many stories about Centralia while growing up, since his father was a mine engineer. The town’s sink holes, long burning mine fire, and fog would all make their way into his adaptation of the video game series.
The parallels between the villages of Centralia and Silent Hill are easily visible in the film. Silent Hill is located in coal region of West Virginia, just as Centralia was founded in a coal mining area in Pennsylvania.
In the town of Silent Hill, a thick blanket of fog and ash descend from the sky. While Centralia lacks falling ash, it certainly has plenty of fog, gasses, and steam venting from the underground mine fire. The town of Silent Hill also has huge cracks and fissures in the roads. These are found in Centralia too, especially along the abandoned section of Route 61.
Finally, in the movie it is eventually discovered that Silent Hill was abandoned 30 years before due to a coal seam fire. This is exactly what caused Centralia, PA to be evacuated and razed during the 1980s.
- Learn about why Centralia’s residents left the town
- Read about abandoned Route 61, the “Graffiti Highway”
Though it lacks the demons, cults, and evil spirits, Centralia has many of the other disturbing elements found in the film. In that sense Centralia, Pennsylvania is the real-life Silent Hill.