The terrifying corridors of the game


Each day we walk through hallways and corridors without pause. Are dead space, boring, empty, uninspiring, undeserving of any consideration – they are not so much an architectural element in which you look carefully as an infrastructure by which to pass up in a hurry. His function is to go around the buildings, move from one room to the next. Although we often take these areas of in-between alleged, cruzándolas in a hurry to get to places that are really important, they can also be incredibly evocative.

The hallways are awkward places that cause anxiety; the horror genre has historically used it to put us in suspense. Tend not to be places where it is happening, the horror or explicit violence, just lead us to them. These are areas that generate fear by the anticipation; the corridor is conducive to horror for its ability to increase the suspense by checking the path to the unknown. What is hidden around the corner or behind that door? Every aisle is a world of possibilities is indeterminate.

Roger Luckhurst, professor of the University of London and an expert in everything that has to do with terror, has recently written a book about the hallways. Mentioned well soon the Resident Evil series and the various facilities of the Umbrella Corporation, where at times the horror is contained and compressed in a form particularly pure. Often the aisle of a video game turns into a dungeon (in the spin-offs of Resident Evil, for example). In these shooters pasilleros how constrictive the broker allows you to condense a massacre full of adrenaline, forcing you to battle your way through to death or hacked to death with machetes in order to achieve pass through a narrow space infested with zombies.

1P. T.

In the side more cognitive of the scale we have the terrifying hallways of P. T., the playable teaser from Kojima and Del Toro that has been removed from the story, and that is the definition of a space content. This short play offers a loop minimalist: a single runner home separated by 90 degree turns from which seem to spring out of infinite possibilities. Gareth Damian Martin, in his article on the repetition of the hallway and corner in P. T., it identifies the source of the horror is architectural in this bend. The inability of the player to see the end of the corridor and the uncertainty that absence makes the game an experience which generates anxiety.

The corner is not the only way that the corridors to create tension, to hint at the unknown, or create surprises and twists. Imagine a runner horizontal infinite, for example, one that seems to have no vanishing point – simply runs until you can not see what is there at the end. Luckhurst also points to the “eerie anticipation that builds each door that the player goes through.” If the corridor just leads to a room or event to the next, then each door and threshold is an opportunity for a meeting was terrific. It is often said that the horror is more effective when its true source is unknown.

The greater part of the book of Luckhurst describes the long history of the hall since its inception utopian to its modern linkage with the distopías. Although I think that the special structure of the corridor is important, in reality the historical context of this maligned form of architecture is the one that actually allows you to ferment the horror. The associations it generates are the ones that create the unsettling atmosphere of the corridors so familiar to us it is.

In the ancient world, the temples had what Luckhurst calls “towering structures of corridors” – regions that anticipate an imminent encounter the divine. From the beginning the halls were among his characteristics inherent in the anticipation and revelation. They are also imbued with the “mythical resonances of the labyrinth, as a reference to the ideas of the lost souls and monsters wandering. In the same way, the games use the corridors to isolate, disorient, and, on occasion, assault.”

2P. T.

The word “corridor” has its origins in the Latin for “to run”, a verb to which all players are accustomed to. Runners original, as Luckhurst explores, were the perimeters of the city, designed so that the messengers could move at full speed if it happened to a crisis. Long before the corridors become a place of archetypal scenes of persecution in the horror genre, had been built with the intention of the user through running.

In the EIGHTEENTH century, the architect John Vanbrugh built the Palace of Blenheim, one of the first buildings that was used by the internal corridors to connect each and every one of the rooms. The baroque palace, with its symmetrical distribution and organized, was built for the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. Those names will be familiar to those who watch the movie in 2018, The Favorite, which shows a dispute between the Duchess and her cousin, a minor, both with the desire to become the favorite of the court of the Queen. Although the film does not takes place or was filmed in the Palace of Blenheim, its extensive galleries darkened and secret passages seem to be imbued with the same characteristics as the aisle is modern. “In the shadows, ( … ) the anonymous amoral, the plots are illegal and the corruption of sexual” seem to flourish, writes Luckhurst.

When the wealthy implemented by the aisles in their great houses and palaces to distinguish between their private space and the areas of the servants, the corridor also became a tool of the state to the rational organization. In the EIGHTEENTH century, the halls took over the new designs of prisons, hospitals and lunatic asylums. It became a way to distribute logically the space, and even the reformers began to believe that they could “reorganize the own subjectivity.” In the asylums the “taxonomy of madness” were “attributed to the architecture”, as countries recognized the powers psychic of the brick and the cement.

Although the corridor began as part of a utopian project to improve the health of the society, the corridors of power and discipline ended up being viewed with suspicion. Luckurst explains that places like asylums began to “be perceived as environments that led to the insanity rather than cure it.”

“The corridor of infinite and anonymous is one of the images foundational status, by conforming, the individual absorbed by the larger structures of the state.”

These corridors are stark and dehumanising are a potential source of terror. There is something significantly overwhelming in the empty hallways of the school for the night or strolling through the endless halls of antiseptic hospital, but again the asylum is the one that appears again and again in the fictions of gender. Titles of horror like Outlast or The Evil Within use these locations, but even games of infiltration and action such as Thief: Deadly Shadows and Batman: Arkham Asylum recreated the oppressive atmosphere in the hallways of asylums invoked in a natural way.

In the TWENTIETH century we begin to distrust, if not outright despise, these bureaucratic mazes. The corridor austere and monotonous was an “annihilation Kafkaesque I”, architecture that we categorizaba coldly and we became instruments that were displaced from one side to the other and manipulated. This historical context is the one that creates the restlessness that we feel when we walk through a corridor, even though we know that there is a monster waiting for us at the end. We look to the hallways with suspicion, the cross with nerves, distrust of those whom we find in them and we looked at each latch with a deep suspicion.

3Resident Evil 2.

Resident Evil 2, which recently received a remake, done a great job generating stress through its corridors claustrophobic, but what’s more interesting is the specific context of its setting. The Mansion Spencer of the first Resident Evil, and the family residence of the Baker in Resident Evil 7 are homes that delve deeper into the realm of the impossible. These buildings become the familiar in strange and affecting psychological drama of their family lives, while Resident Evil 2 takes place in a municipal building cold and calculated. The police Station of Raccoon City is a bureaucratic maze in the same way in that they were prisons and hospitals in the NINETEENTH century.

Inspired in the City of Osaka, built in 1918, the police station of Resident Evil 2 is a huge public building that has the purpose of underlining the power of the state and to dazzle the individual. That’s why when we went through the corridors of the police station, we feel that there is something that is not right. We never felt at ease in their runners inhuman. On the contrary, the returns haunted and the temporality repetitive of the basements and attics of the original game, corridors of the sequel to represent a modernity superficial and insipid. This is the difference between the haunted house, with its metaphors about the conscious and unconscious mind, and something more akin to the terrifying corridors of the Overlook Hotel that had Stanley Kubrick in The shining.

According to Luckhust, the distribution of corridors of the Overlook Hotel is “a space uninterrupted to be deployed and that (…) limits the action, but multiply the amount of threats that can come from off the screen.” The “anonymous and ahistorical” hotel corridor perfectly capturing our existential angst. It is a space absolutely alienating where all the “individual lives are standardized,” and the doors are the same, the tasteless wallpaper of the walls and the patterns of the carpet extending to infinity. It is not uncommon for us to feel anxious in these places of transition.

4Layers of Fear 2.

The Polish studio Bloober Team recreated these disturbing corridors to detail in his game, more recent, Layers of Fear 2. The game, inspired in the history of cinema, it puts you in the role of an actor in the extravagant new production of a director’s upset. The action takes place on an Ocean Liner (in essence, a floating hotel). The developers bend their halls and create loops in the style of P. T., although in combinations that are much longer. Here there are a thousand different variants of the hallway of hotel terrifying and tormented! Is a material that is confusing and twisted, but in my opinion the previous game of Bloober, Observer, creates the best corridors.

Observer, which is a game of horror but also science fiction, is set in an enormous residential complex in Krakow (Poland) in the future. According to Roger Luckhurst, we now live in a world of “anti-halls”. In the past decades, we have rejected the brokers and we have chosen in his place by the houses of open plan, huge atriums of glass and work spaces divided into cubicles. It is a turning not only against the institutional spaces of dominant as asylums, but also against the public housing. In other words: it is political.


The former british Prime Minister and absolute incompetent David Cameron once described the “brutal towers of skyscrapers and dark alleys” as “a gift for criminals and drug traffickers.” This perception is not new. The architect Oscar Newman defined once the residential skyscraper in their study conducted in the 70’s as a “lower world of fear and crime.” Instead of blaming the poor town planning or to the increase of poverty, it pointed to the life in community, and even the own design of the corridors as well as responsible for the horrors that were emerging.

As was The case in a clockwork Orange Kubrick, where the brutalist building Southmere Estate in Thamesmead was the dystopian backdrop for Alex and his vandalism street band, the unit of room of Krakow in the Observer is a decrepit hormigonotopía full of criminal activities illegal. A serial killer mutant who walks through its corridors and halls are converted into a anti-social no-man’s land.


Another recent release that goes into the interior haunting of the public housing buildings is Devotion, Red Candle Games. Set in the Taiwan of the 80’s, the play not only explores the narrow confines of your old apartment, with a corridor in L is straight from P. T., but also the hallways longer and more twisted of the own apartment complex. Again and again you move closer to “home” from the outside, from the stairwell and from the anonymous and terrifying hallway that seems to spin around you.

The housing complex of Devotion is dark, dingy and neglected, but it is also the historical context of a control by the oppressive state, classifying and compartimentalizando human life to a large scale which produces in us anxiety as we walk through its corridors. Red Candle Games now faces a different kind of suppression, with the game disappeared from stores in a purification approved by the state, with the license of business of their distributors cancelled.

In institutional failures of the corridor, and his passage from utopia to the dystopia we find the source of the terror generated by this architecture. The game developers can do wonders with the narrow structure and compressed in the hallways, but it is her long history that makes these spaces so haunting. Spider slightly on the surface of its walls austere or decorations abstract of your carpet and you’ll find something dark and unpleasant.

Translation by Jaime San Simon.

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