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The time is neigh. Everyone will be released from pain and suffering. Our salvation is at hand. This is the day of reckoning. When our sorrows will be washed away. When we return to the true Paradise!
~ Dahlia Gillespie
Dahlia Gillespie is the main antagonist of the 1999 hit survival horror videogame Silent Hill and one of the two main villains in the 2008 prequel Silent Hill: Origins (along with Dr. Michael Kaufmann), making her one of the main antagonists of the Silent Hill series. She is the leader of the powerful religious cult known as The Order, situated in the northeastern town of Silent Hill. For the bulk of the game, she appears to be a helpful character, helping Harry Mason, the game's protagonist, fight Alessa, the mysterious young woman Harry sees throughout the town.
She was voiced by Liz Mamorsky in the first game and by Laurence Bouvard in Origins. She was also portrayed by Deborah Kara Unger in the films.
Dahlia grew up in Silent Hill, and eventually became the head of The Order sect known as the Sect of the Holy Woman. Dahlia is also the owner and proprietor of the Green Lion Antiques store in Silent Hill. It is also rumored that she has a side business of magic spells and fortune-telling to her customers. She may have been involved in the mysterious deaths of several people involved in developing Silent Hill into a resort town back in the 1960s. She also started a drug trade, selling a hallucinogen to the tourists, made from a local plant named White Claudia, that was also used in the cult's rituals. She was assisted in this by Dr. Michael Kaufmann, the director of Alchemilla Hospital, whose level of cult involvement and activity is unknown. This led to Dahlia's involvement in the death of the anti-drug mayor and the narcotics officer Gucci. But Dahlia's supreme goal was to bring The Order's God into this world and bring paradise on Earth, but her real interest was in gaining personal power. She attempted to impregnate several young girls with the god, but none of them could withstand the trauma involved in the impregnation process.
Dahlia Gillespie then found out that her seven year old daughter Alessa had vast mental powers. Dahlia and the cult proceeded to perform the impregnation ritual on Alessa, which involved setting the girl on fire, in an upstairs room in the Gillespie house. She had managed to bind Alessa's power with a mystical device called the Flauros, but she did not count on Alessa drawing in an outsider named Travis Grady to help her fight back. Travis unwittingly helped her release her powers, and Alessa foiled the cult's plans by splitting her soul in half, shaped it into an infant, and placed it on the side of the road, where the childless Harry Mason and his dying wife Jodie found her and named her Cheryl, raising her as their own. Although the god was successfully impregnated in Alessa, the half of her soul left was not powerful enough to give birth to it. Dahlia cast a summoning spell, keeping Alessa alive and in extreme pain, not allowing her burns to heal. Her intention was for the other half to subconsciously feel Alessa's pain, and come back to Silent Hill, where the soul would be reunited.
Seven Years of Waiting
Dahlia had Alessa placed in secret room in the sub-basement of Alchemilla Hospital and kept under the watchful eye of Doctor Kaufmann. Alessa's intense suffering caused her to slip into a coma, but her subconscious self was still active. Essentially, Dahlia's spell had caused Alessa to plummet into a nightmare state, which was populated by monsters representing her fears and anxieties. The dormant God inside of her fed off this fear and suffering, allowing it to develop.
Harry and Cheryl Arrive
7 years after the ritual, Alessa's suffering causes Cheryl to subconsciously choose Silent Hill as the vacation spot they would visit, something which they had done together since Mrs. Mason had died 4 years previously. As they drew close to the town, Alessa awakened and sent out an astral projection of her soul. Near the town lines, while Cheryl is asleep, she runs into the road, causing Harry to crash the car, knocking himself out. When he awakes, Cheryl has disappeared and he is in Silent Hill engulfed by the Fog World which is perpetual dreary silence, and the Otherworld, which is manifesting Alessa's darkest nightmares. In fact, Cheryl has now merged with the half soul of Alessa, and pretty much ceased to exist as an independent entity. She begins rapidly maturing to Alessa's current physical age of 14. Using her powers, Alessa forms a scheme to destroy herself, the town, and the God by spreading a magical crest, known as the Seal of Metatron (known to Dahlia as the Mark of Sammael), throughout the Otherworld town to make up one large crest, with several that were larger than the others placed in key locations. Cheryl's return and bonding with Alessa catches Dahlia's attention, but she cannot finish the ritual until Alessa's soul is brought back to her body. She also cannot enter the dark side of Alessa's Otherworld, known as the Otherside (better known as Nowhere), where Alessa is carrying out her plan. Dahlia needed someone else to help her, and ultimately settles on Harry, whom Alessa moves between the light and dark worlds in order to keep her beloved "father" from dying. Dahlia proceeds to trick Harry into assisting in her scheme.
Dahlia Gillespie leaves clues around Silent Hill directing Harry Mason to the key locations, including the Midwich Elementary School, the Alchemilla Hospital, and the Lakeside Amusement Park. She even places Cheryl's voice calling for help and her father on a telephone near Harry and even places a similar voice along with an ominous image of Cheryl on a television screen he passes. She meets Harry at the Balkan Church and points him toward the hospital. She also gives him the Flauros, which she told Harry would contain Alessa's evil. She meets with him several more times and at the last one, she tells Harry that Alessa is a demon in a child's form and will make Cheryl into a sacrifice and set the Otherworld loose if she completes the seals, which Dahlia calls the Mark of Samael. He does not fully trust her, but has nothing else to go on. Harry fails to stop Alessa from completing the first several seals, but arrives at the amusement park ahead of her, and confronts her, demanding Cheryl back. Alessa pushes him away with her powers, but the Flauros activates itself and traps her. Dahlia arrives, and Alessa's Otherworld loses its cohesion and collapses into a mixture of the different locations, referred to as "Nowhere". It is here, in a transfigured form of the Gillespie household, that Dahlia prepares to complete the ritual.
The Birth of the God and the Death of Dahlia
Harry arrives just as the soul is reunited with the body, and confronts Dahlia. She then proceeds to explain most, but not all, of what has been going on. The soul is restored to Alessa's charred, bandaged body. They both disasppear and are replaced, by the God, who has manifested as Alessa's image of her, a woman in shining robes. Kaufmann unexpectedly walks in after the God is born. Blaming Dahlia and the Order for his presence in the fog world and then the Otherworld, he wounds Dahlia with a pistol and hurls a vial of Aglaophotis, a substance used to expel demons, at the God, not fully cognizant of what has just happened. This has an unexpected consequence when it causes the God to transform into Dahlia's image of God, namely that of a winged demon. The God destroys Dahlia with orange lightning and fights with Harry, who destroys him. The God falls to the ground and transforms back into the shining woman. It recreates Alessa into an infant, and hands it to Harry, who is unaware of the woman's true nature. The infant still had the capability of birthing the God.
In Silent Hill 3, Father Vincent refers to Dahlia as "that old hag" from 17 years ago. He also claims that she "brainwashed" Claudia Wolf, the game's antagonist. The Holy Woman sect was destroyed during and not long after the events of the game, a causalty of Dahlia's actions. In Silent Hill 4: The Room, It is revealed that Dahlia, in an act of cooperation with the rival Sect of the Holy Mother, told the young orphan Walter Sullivan that performing the aforementioned sect's ritual of birthing, the ceremony of the 21 Sacraments for the Descent of the Holy Mother, would reunite him with his birth mother, intended as a fail safe in case her plans for Alessa went awry. When Dahlia felt she no longer needed the Holy Mother Sect, she showed Walter his birthplace, at Room 302 of South Ashfield Heights, an apartment building in the nearby town of Ashfield. Here, she sabotaged the Holy Mother Sect's plans by telling him that the room was in fact his mother. This led him go on a killing spree as an adult, attempting to commit the 21 sacrifices needed to complete the ritual. Several of his victims were important Order priests, which brought down two of the three original sects.
Dahlia Gillespie appears in the live action film Silent Hill and she was portrayed by Deborah Kara Unger. Dahlia is part of a fanatical and puritanical sect known as the Brethren presided over by her sister, a religious woman named Christabella who attempted to sacrifice her daughter Alessa by burning her alive under the belief that she was a witch and hence needed to be "purified" for the greater good. However, its revealed that Christabella offered Dahlia the choice to whether she wanted Alessa to be sacrified or not. Being highly devoted to the Brethren, Dahila was blind to Christabella's evil intentions and even agreed that Alessa needed to be "purified" in some way. After willingly offering her daughter to be sacrificed, Dahila eventually regretted her decision and was forever tormented by her own guilt.
Unlike her videogame counterpart, the Dahlia in the movie is not the main villain but rather, an anti-heroic figure who is deeply remorseful of her contribution to Alessa's suffering. Christabella replaces Dahila's original villainous role in the film adaptation. Dahila even tries to redeem herself by protecting Sharon, one of Alessa's incarnations, from the cult.
At the end when Alessa saves Sharon's life from the cult by vengefully killing all of them, Dahlia is spared. When she asks why she wasn't taken with the others, Rose tells her, reflecting what Cybil said, "Because you're her mother. Mother is God in the eyes of a child.". What happened to Dahlia afterwards remains anonymous.
Dahlia returns in the sequel Silent Hill: Revelation. She is seen still alive and confronting Heather Sharon Mason at a church filled with charred bonfires and corpses of traitors to the Order of Valtiel and the Brethren in downtown Silent Hill and recognized her as the "daughter" of her only child Alessa.
Heather soon ran after Dahlia says "I know the darkness is coming. It's safer to be inside.", as the town shifts from the Fog World into the Otherworld.
Dahlia in the Balkan Church.
Dahlia in the church.
Dahlia in the church.
Dahlia, in what appears to be a temple.
A young Dahlia Gillespie as she appears in Silent Hill: Origins.
A character named Parkins Gillespie appears in Stephen King's novel Salem's Lot. Given the influence King's works had on the series, he may have inspired Dahlia's surname.
In the opening FMV of the game, Dahlia appears running away from something in a temple, though it is unknown exactly what she was running from.
Dahlia's character and personality frequently change throughout the Silent Hill franchise, more than any other character. Almost every new interpretation of Dahlia is separate from the last. In the original game as well as Origins, she was a religious zealot, whereas in the film, she was a sympathetic victim of the Brethren. In Shattered Memories, she was completely re-imagined as Harry's wife/Cheryl's mother. No other character has been so drastically altered both physically and emotionally between different installments of the series. This includes Silent Hill, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and the film.
Dahlia is the only member of the Order (besides Vincent Smith) to aid an outsider, being Harry Mason, even if it was for her own gain.
In the scene at the end of Silent Hill where she announces the birth of Samael (God), there is a typo in the speech text, spelling "neigh" instead of "nigh".
Dahlia says that she used Gyromancy to foretell Harry's involvement in Silent Hill. when he first met her. This is most likely a lie, as she set the events in motion, but if it were true, perhaps she was adept in black magic. This suggests that she, and likely, the other members of the Order, engage in the practice of gyromancy itself. As the Halo of the Sun, the Order cult's very own symbol, is a circle whose circumference contains symbols, it is likely that it was the circle partularly used in that same practice.
She shares a basic similarity to Mrs. Carmody from Stephen King's The Mist. They are both deeply religious.
Dahlia also shares basic similarities to Margaret White from the Stephen King novel Carrie as they are fanatically religious and they both abused their own daughters.
Dahlia shares similarities with another Silent Hill villain, Judge Margaret Holloway, since they are both zealous cultists who sacrificed their own children and claimed it was for greater good, and they are both lack of remorse for their crimes and are fond of torturing others. No surprise, they are both considered to be the most evil Silent Hill villains ever.