When it was released for the Playstation in 1999, Konami’s Silent Hill completely changed the way people think about horror video games. The development team leaned into a more psychological style of horror that terrorized the player with bizarre and unexplained elements meant to instill a fear of the unknown. One of the game’s least explained elements, and therefore perhaps the most terrifying, is a semi-accurate recreation of the elementary school from the 1990 family movie Kindergarten Cop. Yes, that Kindergarten Cop. A recent article from Mental Floss attempted to get to the bottom of what the hell is going on here.
Over the years, a few keen-eyed players have noticed that Midwich Elementary School in the fictional town of Silent Hill bares a striking resemblance to Astoria Elementary School where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character Detective John Kimble goes undercover to protect a young boy from his drug dealer father and explain to kids what is and is not a tumor. There are no absolutely concrete references to the film’s plot, but there are enough architectural similarities between the two schools to make you wonder. For starters, each building has a similar cinderblock archway for an entrance with a set of nearly identical double doors split by a railing. Once inside Midwich, you’ll find a mirror image of the greeting area seen outside the principal’s office in Kindergarten Cop, as well as a nurse’s office containing a few First Aid notices in the same places they were in the movie. If you want to get really granular, there are even a few frames of the film that may have inspired the courtyard and clock tower seen in the game.
According to Mental Floss, the makers of Silent Hill have stated in interviews that the game draws on numerous pop culture sources including movies, books, and manga. Throughout the game there are subtle homages or direct references to films like Natural Born Killers, The Silence Of The Lambs, and 12 Monkeys, so we know they weren’t shy about using influences from the same decade they were working in.
It’s possible the inclusion of the school was just a meta-joke about their use of other horror references. But maybe the people at Konami know something about Kindergarten Cop that we don’t. Maybe Detective John Kimble never really went undercover at Astoria Elementary. It’s a pretty unrealistic premise when you think about it. Maybe, after the years of psychological trauma he experienced as part of the LAPD vice squad, including the loss of his wife and child, he finally snapped and had a mental break with reality. That’s why, despite completing his mission, he chooses to remain at Astoria Elementary at the end of the film. There is no escape from one’s own psychosis...
Or it’s just a generic-looking school. Hard to say!