- This article is about the film character. For the antagonist of the comics, see Christabella LaRoache.
|“|| Faith is the only truth.
Christabella is the main antagonist and an original character in the Silent Hill film. She is the leader of a fanatical cult known as the Brethren, which is based in the town of Silent Hill, West Virginia.
Christabella was an influential resident of Silent Hill, having spent her entire life in the old mining town. It is implied her sisters are Dahlia Gillespie and Claudia Wolf. Claudia calls Christabella her sister, which would naturally make Leonard Wolf also Christabella's father, but this isn't certain as it's possible Claudia and Christabella have different fathers. Calling another "sister" is also common when two people share the same religion, in some instances.
She served as the headmistress at Midwich Elementary School, but also served a darker role in the town as the leader of a fanatical cult known as the Brethren. Worshiping an enigmatic god, the Brethren were essentially witch hunters. Anyone condemned as a witch or demon was taken to a secret sacrificial chamber and burned to death by Christabella and her followers as a form of "purification".
When Dahlia gave birth to a girl out of wedlock, which was considered a sin to the Brethren, Christabella immediately had the child condemned as a witch. The child, Alessa Gillespie, was bullied and abused daily at school, while the members of the cult not only allowed it, but encouraged it in their children. Despite Christabella and the Brethren's contempt for the child, Dahlia raised and loved Alessa, and refused to reveal the identity of the father.
Things came to a head when Alessa was nine years old, and she was sexually assaulted by the school janitor Colin while hiding from her bullying classmates in a bathroom. When Dahlia arrived at the bathroom to retrieve Alessa, Christabella ushered the other children from the room and confronted her sister, citing the incident as proof that Alessa was "filth". Blaming Dahlia for bringing sin among them, Christabella urged Dahlia to have the child "purified". Upon being assured that Alessa's innocence would be restored, and not realizing what the purification would entail, Dahlia agreed.
At night, Christabella, Dahlia, and the rest of the Brethren brought Alessa to the Grand Hotel, which concealed the entrance to the sacrificial chamber. Christabella stopped Dahlia from entering and told her to leave, saying they fight the sin, not the sinner. Christabella's followers dragged Alessa inside to begin the ritual. Dahlia, terrified, realized her sister's true intentions and rushed to get the police.
Inside the chamber, Christabella had Alessa chained to a large metal seal and hung over a bowl of hot coals. As Alessa burned and screamed in pain, Christabella preached to the Brethren that the burning was a mortal battle against the demon that was the cult's enemy, though Claudia Wolf would claim decades later that the burning was in fact a ritual intending to impregnate Alessa with God. Either way, this time the ritual ended in failure. Things went horribly wrong when one of the chains holding Alessa in place broke, causing the seal holding her to swing into the bowl of coals, knocking it over and scattering the coals towards one of the large curtains that decorated the chamber.
A fire ensued and Christabella and her followers fled from the sacrificial chamber, leaving the burned Alessa behind. The fire burned through the floor of the chamber and eventually reached the coal mine beneath Silent Hill, triggering a massive fire that consumed part of the town and ultimately resulting in its complete abandonment. Whether Christabella and the Brethren initially survived the fire is ambiguous, but because of the incident and Dahlia's actions, their activities were exposed to the police, though they eventually chose to keep the town's dark history with the Brethren a secret from the outside world.
Worse was still to come for Christabella and the cult. Alessa was saved from the chamber by Dahlia and police officer Thomas Gucci. Alessa was taken to Brookhaven Hospital, where her burning hatred for the people who hurt her had triggered her immense supernatural powers and split her soul to form a being known as Dark Alessa. Together, Alessa and Dark Alessa created the Fog World and the Otherworld, two alternate realities which reflected Alessa's fractured psyche. In retribution for their cruelty, Christabella, Dahlia, Claudia, and the Brethren were pulled into the new reality, which initially consisted entirely of the town of Silent Hill and was full of grotesque, malevolent creatures which slaughtered the cultists at every opportunity.
Christabella and the Brethren found sanctuary in their church, which due to their blind conviction, was the only place Alessa and her monsters could not enter. Dahlia, however, was cast out of the cult for her betrayal, and Claudia took refuge in a sanctuary beneath the amusement park with a cult called the Order, which aimed to use Alessa to birth God in the hopes of freeing themselves. In denial of the fact that their predicament was their own doing, Christabella convinced her followers that the apocalypse has occurred because Alessa was cursed, and that they were the only ones pure enough to survive the "devil's" wrath. The Brethren believed that their prayers hold back the darkness, when in reality, the coming and going of the Otherworld was in no way affected by their beliefs.
For the thirty years they spent in the Fog World, Christabella remained as the Brethren's leader, using their own fear to keep them under her control. Rarely, if ever leaving the church, Christabella left the task of venturing into the town for supplies to her followers, who were always warned to return to the church before the Otherworld, known to the cult as the "darkness", took over, upon which they would face certain death at Dark Alessa's hands.
Unknown to the Brethren, twenty one years after the burning, Alessa's soul would split to form the embodiment of Alessa's goodness, manifesting as a normal baby that Dark Alessa sent to the real world to live the happy life Alessa never had. The child was adopted by Rose and Christopher Da Silva and she was named Sharon, growing up with no memory of her life in Silent Hill. When Dark Alessa called Sharon back to Silent Hill nine years later, it would be the beginning of the end for Christabella and the Brethren.
Thirty years after Christabella burned Alessa alive, Dark Alessa called Sharon back to Silent Hill for the "end of days", in which they would finish what they started and finish off Christabella and her followers. When Sharon began suffering dangerous sleepwalking episodes in which she would scream the name "Silent Hill", Rose took Sharon to the town in an attempt to cure her. Immediately after their arrival, they were pulled into the Fog World along with a police officer named Cybil Bennett, and Sharon went missing. Following Dark Alessa's clues to the school where Christabella worked, and the chamber where Alessa was burned, Rose and Cybil finally came to the church to hide from the coming darkness, having been brought there by Anna, a member of the cult who was born after the Fog World was created. While Rose and Cybil reached the relative safety of the church, Anna unwisely stayed outside to throw stones at Dahlia, and was skinned alive by Red Pyramid.
Alarmed by the two strangers and blaming them for Anna's death, her mother Eleanor declared Rose and Cybil to be witches. Rose was almost attacked by the crazed cultists until Cybil fired a shot to scare them off, prompting an agitated Christabella to come forward and tell them that the church is a "sanctuary". When Eleanor pleaded for Christabella to punish the two strangers, Christabella comforted Eleanor and reminded her that Anna herself was to blame for staying outside in the "devil's playground". Choosing to deal with Rose and Cybil later, Christabella and the Brethren gathered in the middle of the church to say their prayers, after which the Fog World returned.
In the upper level of the church, Christabella questioned the two women on how they came to be in Silent Hill. Rose explained how her daughter disappeared right after they arrived, upon which Christabella told her that the "demon" (Dark Alessa) responsible for the darkness likely knew where Sharon was. Against the objections of her followers, Christabella agreed to lead Rose and Cybil to the hospital where Alessa lay in wait, though she believed Rose and Cybil would not return.
Before she ventured from the church, Christabella noticed Rose's locket that Eleanor had torn off during the attempted attack lying on the floor before the doors and picked it up. Taking four men dressed in miner's garb for protection, she took Rose and Cybil to the hospital where they cautiously made their way to the elevator which was the only way to reach Alessa. While her men forced the elevator doors open with crowbars, Christabella directed Rose to a wall map, pointed out the room where Alessa had remained ever since her burning, and advised her to memorize the path for the best chance for survival.
Right before Rose and Cybil were about to enter the elevator, Christebella apologized and held out the open locket, blaming her scavenging instincts for not handing it over sooner. Christabella saw the picture of Sharon inside and realized her resemblance to Alessa. Realizing that Sharon was connected to the demon, a shocked and furious Christabella immediately declared Rose and Cybil to be witches and ordered her men to stop them from reaching the demon. Cybil managed to fight off the cultists, killing one and holding off the others with her handgun, allowing Rose to enter the elevator and descend to Alessa's lair. With her gun aimed at Christabella, Cybil pulled the trigger. Christabella flinched, but the gun was empty. Cybil was viciously beaten to the floor by the cultists. When they stopped, Christabella silently signaled for her men to beat Cybil further. Cybil was taken back to the church.
With Rose out of her reach and presumed dead, Christabella set her sights on the missing Sharon. Convinced that the devil had fathered Sharon from Alessa to tempt the cult, Christabella became intent on finding Sharon and "purifying" her with fire. Remembering how much Dahlia had loved Alessa, Christabella came to suspect that her estranged sister was hiding the girl in her apartment above Nathan Drugs, and stormed the apartment with her enforcers. Sure enough, they found Sharon and kidnapped her along with Dahlia.
With Sharon, Dahlia, and Cybil in her clutches, Christabella had her followers build a pyre in the center of the church for the ritual, which a tall ladder set up on either side on which they would use ropes to position their victims above the pyre to be burned. Christabella had Dahlia restrained so this time around Dahlia could bear witness to Sharon's burning, only for one of cultists to knock Dahlia unconscious with a log from the pyre when she wouldn't stop struggling. Donning her priestess robe, Christabella took a torch and lit the pyre to begin the ritual, choosing Cybil as the first victim. As punishment for aiding Rose, Cybil was bound to the top of one of the ladders and immolated as Christabella and the cultists watched. Once the pyre had burned itself out and Cybil's charred corpse was pulled away, Sharon was bound to the other ladder to suffer the same fate. Christabella preached to the Brethren, spouting the same lies she had been telling them for thirty years.
Rose suddenly entered the church. Shocked that Rose returned alive from the demon's lair, Christabella once again condemned Rose as a witch, but Rose was undeterred. As Dark Alessa had instructed, Rose went on to tell the cultists the "truth". Despite receiving blows from two angered cultists, Rose informed the Brethren that Christabella had been lying to them: the Otherworld was not the apocalypse and the real world still existed outside the town. They had damned themselves through their own actions and were beyond salvation. Infuriated, Christabella called for Rose to be burned, only for Rose to contemptuously call her out on her methods. The supposed purification ritual was nothing more than a means of destroying anything they feared or could not control. Christabella had been manipulating the cult for years, using fear to control them and leading them to burn an innocent child. Rose urged the Brethren to recognize their guilt and Alessa's pain. An increasingly enraged Christabella claimed that Alessa was sin incarnate. Rose rebukes the priestess, saying it was Christabella who had sinned. She had darkened the heart of an innocent, created the very demon she had been trying to destroy, and was now cowering in the face of Alessa's revenge. Nearing breaking point, Christabella screamed for her followers to burn Rose. Rose fired back that her faith brings death, and her god was nowhere in this limbo to save her. With that last blow against her faith, Christabella finally snapped and plunged a dagger into Rose's heart.
As Rose collapsed, Christabella dropped the dagger and fought to regain composure as she faced her stunned Brethren, defending her actions by claiming that Rose was a blasphemer. Though it appeared that she had successfully maintained control over her followers, Christabella had made a fatal mistake in stabbing Rose. As part of their plan to get their final revenge, Dark Alessa had merged with Rose so Rose could carry Dark Alessa inside the church. Rose's tainted blood dripped from the fallen dagger to the floor and the Otherworld was now able to corrupt the church; within minutes the entire building was shrouded in darkness. The cultists lit several torches to light the room and Christabella saw that Rose was still alive. Rose's stab wound spilled Dark Alessa's essence onto the floor, eventually opening a portal to the Otherworld beneath the burned pyre. Christabella realized to her horror that Rose had brought the darkness in with her, but by then it was already too late. The "end of days" had come - at least for the cult.
Strapped in her hospital bed, an adult scarred Alessa rose into the church through the portal with mounds of telekinetically controlled rusted barbed wire, setting her sights on Christabella. As her followers panicked and desperately tried to open the church doors to no avail, Christabella cowered in terror before the vengeful Alessa. Alessa reached out and snared Christabella's arms with the barbed wire, lifting her high into the air before grabbing her legs and opening them wide. Christabella prayed for her god to give her the strength to stay pure. Dahlia and Dark Alessa watched Alessa use several entwined wires to rape and sodomize Christabella; the barbed wire exited Christabella's body through her back, chest, and mouth, culminating in her being torn in half. Dark Alessa danced in Christabella's spilling blood and gore. Her followers would soon after all suffer similar gruesome fates, ultimately ending with the complete destruction of the Brethren.
Silent Hill: Revelation
Christabella does not appear in the sequel to Silent Hill, but she is mentioned. According to Revelation, Christabella believed that Alessa could be used to birth God, and so burned her alive with the intention that Alessa would survive and be purified, hence enabling her to become a vessel of God. Instead, Christabella underestimated Alessa's powers, and Alessa split her soul and trapped the cult in an alternate reality.
Though it's never mentioned in the first film, Revelation antagonist Claudia Wolf claims to be the sister of Christabella.
Christabella is a theist who could be viewed as a religious extremist and fanatic. One of the major themes of the film and the series is religion and how different people can perceive something, especially religion and their idea of "God", in different ways. In an original script, Christabella says she and her cult are Manichaeists. Christabella openly insults Christian beliefs -- she apparently doesn't think highly of the Four Evangelists (Mark, Matthew, Luke, John), feeling that their gospels are full of errors and inaccuracies to the point that it doomed humanity.
|“|| We're not Christians. We're Manichaeans. The Testaments of Matthew and the other disciples of Jesus are what led to the End of Days that we are now in. We follow the old ways. Separation of Spirit and Flesh are the doctrines by which we live. And our faith has never failed us. It keeps the Darkness of Hell at bay.
Her motives and actions were rooted in fear of the "Demon" (i.e. Dark Alessa) and she believes in the existence of "dark" entities, although it is unknown how she interprets "dark" entities, as there is Samael, Satan, the Demiurge, etc. When Christabella became trapped in the Otherworld for three decades, her fearful personality and her resolve to protect herself and her people from "the Demon's wrath" was amplified.
One could pity and perhaps sympathize with Christabella, and view her as a victim of what religion and fear can do to people in despair. Like many of the religious cultists in the series, she may have been indoctrinated into her beliefs when she as a little girl, and as an adult, turned to them in times of distress. She also may have been forced into her beliefs and was abused if she refused to do so. Christabella wanted to help people and viewed Alessa's burning as something that would protect them and the world. When Rose and Cybil entered her church, she welcomed them with smiles and gave them survival advice.
However, much of her methods were questionable. For example, when Alessa displayed psychokinetic powers that could not be explained, Christabella's reaction was to burn the child, instead of leaving Alessa to be investigated by other people such as police and scientists. She acted as a leader for people in fear like her, using their fear and faith to control them. She presented her idea of why Alessa is the way she is as factual to her followers.
Even after her dooming by Dark Alessa and at the moment of her death, Christabella is headstrong and stubborn when it comes to her beliefs and she doesn't seem to doubt herself that perhaps burning Alessa may not have been the best course of action. While burning Alessa is a moral argument, Christbella's insanity is shown when she also burns Cybil to death and attempts to kill Rose when her beliefs are challenged, acts which could be as going overboard and making Christabella past redemption. Her final words, "Oh, God, give me the strength to stay pure!" encapsulate her cemented faith and her denial that she did anything morally wrong or sinful.
Relation to the Gillespies
According to the first film's canon, Christabella is the sister of Dahlia Gillespie, which would also make her the aunt of Alessa. This is supported by:
- Christabella appears when Dark Alessa says, "...but the rest of the family didn't love Alessa." Christabella touches Dahlia's hair and says, "You're weak, my dear sister. You always were."
- A set designer saying the woman being burned in a painting is supposed to resemble an ancestor of Christabella or Dahlia in the "making of" behind-the-scenes.
- An early script saying Alessa is Christabella's niece.
- The novelization.
It is unclear whether this relationship is retconned in Revelation, in which Christabella is said to have been the sister of Claudia Wolf and there is no mention of Claudia and Dahlia being sisters.
- "THIS IS A SANCTUARY!" (after her followers try to attack Cybil and Cybil fires her gun at the ceiling to deter them)
- "Eleanor, you must remember that Anna went against our laws. She went alone outside into the devil's playground. She was not a responsibility of these two strangers."
- "And then I saw them, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away. And no home was left to them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, and they were judged according to their deeds. And anyone's name not found written in the book of life, they will be thrown into the lake of fire."
- "Are you a person of faith?"
- "We judge because the souls of history hang in the balance. Because our faith has never failed us. Our faith keeps the darkness of hell at bay."
- "Only the demon knows where she is."
- "No one has ever returned from the core of the darkness, where the demon lies in wait."
- "To find your daughter, you must face the darkness of hell."
- "If you wish to face the demon to find your daughter, I won't stop you."
- "Perhaps your faith will protect you. Perhaps not."
- "Quiet. We're in his domain now."
- "Look at this map. Memorize it. Your memory may save your life."
- "Don't believe your eyes. Your eyes will lie to you. Faith is the only truth."
- "I will pray for you, Rose, but I won't expect you and your friend to return. Goodbye."
- "Forgive me. We've lived too long as scavengers. I believe this is yours."
- "Witch! Her child's the likeness of Alessa! Her child's the next vessel! Stop her! Don't let the witches go down!"
- "We know it, even the children know it, your daughter... Why you won't just name the father? You've brought sin amongst us, the faithful must gather in judgement for we are called to purify this filth. You're weak, my dear sister, you always were. Have faith in our virtue, we will restore innocence."
- "You may leave, Dahlia. We fight the sin, not the sinner."
- "Weep not, for the demon. Once again we are locked in a mortal battle. Praise God for our clarity! Praise the innocent for their sacrifice! They give us our purity! And our unity!"
- "The truth is clear to those who see, just as I saw you hid this child."
- "Your weakness led these souls to judgement. This time you will bear witness."
- "Look at her! She's the whelp of your daughter! The demon! The demon fathered this disgusting abomination from her child!"
- "Those who aid the demon, they must be cleansed by the fire from whence they came."
- "Here is where the Apocalypse began. This is where we stopped the annihilation of the world. We drew a line in the sand and said "Demon, you will not cross!". But the demon is wicked, full of treachery. Yet again he comes to tempt us in the guise of an innocent. To rid the world of this demon, we must burn this child!"
- "That child was sin incarnate!"
- "She was... a blasphemer."
- "Oh, God, give me the strength to stay pure."
- In Midwich Elementary School, a place where Christabella worked, there is an image of a woman who bears a faint resemblance to Christabella. This is likely intentional to foreshadow Christabella's involvement with the school and her religion.
- Her surname is unknown, but since Christabella calls Dahlia her sister, and Claudia says Christabella is her sister, Christabella's full name may be Christabella Gillespie or Christabella Wolf. However, it is possible she was married or that she dropped her possible Gillespie surname because she did not want to be associated with Dahlia.
- Alice Krige did not particularly enjoy the role, feeling that her character was too manipulative and evil.
- Alice Krige wore blue contacts during filming, most likely to match the eye color of Jodelle Ferland and Deborah Kara Unger. They might also highlight Christabella's cold and unforgiving nature.
- Christabella has many similarities with the Silent Hill 3 character Claudia Wolf. They both have passionate religious beliefs, are leaders to their religious followers, want to purify sin with fire, and wield daggers used to stab someone.
- Christabella was not in Silent Hill. In the video game, Dahlia was the cult member; here, Dahlia is given to be a loving mother who is sympathetic and Christabella was created to replace Dahlia's role in the Order.
- Her name is Latin for "Beautiful Christian" and likely chosen due to all the religious symbolism in the film, the "Christ" in her name being allusion to Jesus Christ. Her name is ironic as, according to the original script, she is not a Christian.
- Christabella's surname has never been revealed but since her sisters are Dahlia and Claudia, her surname can be either Gillespie or Wolf.
|Rose Da Silva - Christopher Da Silva - Cybil Bennett - Dahlia Gillespie - Thomas Gucci - Anna - Christabella - Sharon Da Silva - Alessa Gillespie - Dark Alessa|
|Sister Margaret - Eleanor - Colin - Lisa Garland - Jennifer Carroll|
|Armless Man - Colin - Creeper - Dark Nurse - Grey Child - Red Pyramid|
|Brahms - Brookhaven Hospital - Church - Da Silva House - Gans County - Grand Hotel - Midwich Elementary School - Nathan Drugs - Pete's Bowl-O-Rama - Sacrificial Chamber - Silent Hill, West Virginia - Smitty's - Toluca County Archives - Toluca County Mining Museum - Toluca County Orphanage - Toluca Lake|
|The Brethren - Monster - Flashlight - Manifestation - Otherworld - Fog World - Real World - Siren - Great Knife - Welcome Sign - Brethren Symbol|