Hannibal and The Evil Within 2: Devils in Blue

Thursday 4 January 2018

The recent TV adaptation of the Hannibal book series by Thomas Harris seems to have been a great inspiration for a good part of The Evil Within 2, and in particular that section of its plotline that is connected with Stefano Valentini, the evil photographer and sadistic serial killer who creates art with human corpses. The famous novels by Thomas Harris have been adapted several times for cinema and TV (Manhunter, The Silence of The Lambs, Hannibal (movie), The Red Dragon, Hannibal Rising) and they are centered around Dr Hannibal Lecter, who is an ingenious psychiatrist and secretly a serial killer who likes to eat his victims.

Stefano Valentini (left) and Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter (right)

The latest version was a series made for television, written by Bryan Fuller, and although it is still new (it aired from 2013 to 2015), it already has a huge cult following, with the performaces of its protagonists, Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, as Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham respectively, being considered iconic - especially Mikkelsen, who was a revelation.

Stefano Valentini is a bit like Hannibal Lecter; although he does not literally eat his victims, but the way he kills them and what he does to the corpses afterwards don't stray too far off. The chapters of The Evil Within 2 where he is featured have several things in common with the series, mainly in relation with Hannibal Lecter but also with Will Graham in certain details.

Stefano and Hannibal are both serial killers, hiding their criminal activity rather well, and using their day job both as a cover and a status proof. They are both agile and quick with throwing knives, that seem to be their weapons of choice.

Stefano always carries his knife with him
You never know when Hannibal will go mad and start throwing knives

Stefano is a very elegant man; he likes to dress well and has a preference for dark colors. Just like Dr Lecter, who most of the times walks around like a model on the catwalk. Both of them are art lovers and they also enjoy classical music.

Stefano (left) and Hannibal (right) are always showing off their impeccable style

Both Stefano and Hannibal have their hair styled in a side fringe, although Stefano's choice is a trick to hide his right eye, which has been replaced by a camera lens. Hannibal doesn't always wear his hair in a fringe; most of the times he has it combed back, but in Season 3 he showed his rebel side and this was reflected in his change of hairstyle and wardrobe.

The fringe adds an air of mysrtery to Stefano and Hannibal

Stefano and Hannibal both have an elegant but somewhat old-fashioned handwriting, which however matches their personal style.

Stefano's handwriting
Hannibal's handwriting

Stefano seems to be very fond of roses, as they can be seen as decoration in all the places where he is. He also loves to use them in his photos and installations in various ways. Hannibal loves roses too, and he can also be very imaginative in the use he makes of them.

One of Stefano's photographs with an unconventional use of the roses
Hannibal makes roses with prosciutto

The roses carry a lot of symbolism for both Stefano and Hannibal, as they represent love, wisdom and timelessness but also lush, intrigue and sacrifice.

Stefano posing with red roses
Hannibal posing with white roses

Apples must be Stefano's favourite fruit, as a few of them can be found in the first room where Sebastian sees him. There are green and red apples on a table, next to a silver tray. There is also a half-eaten, rotten apple in one of the Safe Rooms at Union, indication that Stefano passed from there earlier. Dr Lecter also likes apples, and he eats them regularly to keep his body healthy and fit.

"Apples! ... Yum!"
"An apple! ... Yuk!"
"I'd offer you a bite but, you know, I don't want to!"

Stefano comes up with some really insane and twisted ideas about his art projects. His installations are made of human corpses and the result is way too gruesome to describe. He seems to take inspiration from Dr Lecter, whose notorious installations are the perfect thing to see before going to sleep.

Stefano's 'Rebirth' (left) and Hannibal's 'Totem' (right) compete for the 'Goriest Installation' prize

Stefano and Hannibal have their own obsessions, which both happen to have to do with officers of the law. Although Stefano's main concern is the possession of power that will make him create his great works of art, he gradually develops a latent obsession with Sebastian, which becomes more evident as the game progresses and he shifts his focus on him, planning to produce a masterpiece with Sebastian's death. Sebastian's career is on hold during the events of The Evil Within 2, but as we know from the previous game, he is a detective, and a very good one, for that matter. Hannibal becomes obsessed with Will Graham as soon as he meets him and from a point and on it becomes a major driving force in the plot. Will is a gifted criminologist working for the FBI, and he has a very distinctive approach in his work.

Sebastian can handle shocking situations well thanks to his experience
Despite his frailty, Will is an excellent professional with great skills

When Sebastian sees Stefano for the first time, he has to stay hidden in the shadows. Stefano however senses his presence and as he walks away, he turns towards Sebastian and literally smells him. This happens at least two more times until they face each other, and Stefano even goes as far as to exclaim that the smell of Sebastian's blood is 'exquisite' during the final fight. Hannibal smells Will from close, and when Will takes notice, Dr Lecter tries to cover things up by making up a random comment about Will's after-shave.

Stefano practically groans as he smells Sebastian
Hannibal is more discreet, but still he makes his point

During the final fight between Stefano and Sebastian, Stefano may be able to attack Sebastian violently and stab him maniacally with his knife. At the end of Hannibal's Season 2, Hannibal finds out that Will knows about his secret and in the last episode he lets his evil side show and stabs Will nearly fatally in an intense scene.

Stefano gets too excited when seeing Sebastian bleed from his knife
Hannibal wants to hate Will, but in reality he can't

Almost all of the plot in The Evil Within 2 takes place in the virtual reality of Union, however the first half, where Stefano is the main antagonist and villain, has a peculiarity. Stefano is able to control Union, thus altering the environment around him (both literally and metaphorically) the way it suits him best. When Sebastian first enters Stefano's twisted world, it is as if he is being dragged in inside his mind. The theater, part of which we see at the beginning of Something Not Quite Right and the rest that we go through in Premiere, as well as the City Hall in Lying In Wait, look as if they have been transformed into some kind of imaginary places in Stefano's mind. Moreover, the Aperture, the huge eye that hovers above Union, sort of represents Stefano's own eye, and how things look around Sebastian, as well as himself, are all seen the way that Stefano perceives them from the inside. This whole place that he has conceived is his personal Artist's Domain, and it is some kind of museum where he keeps his works of art, away from the world.

Hannibal had his own Memory Palace, a place where he kept all his works that he wished to preserve intact. It is also the place in his mind where he communicates with Will. Occasionally, he kind of summons Will in there and they talk, separated from the rest of the world.

Sebastian spots Stefano in the distance, as he is exploring the Artist's domain
Will finds Hannibal in his Memory Palace


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