The Monsters Of Stefano Valentini

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Unlike Ruben Victoriano's monsters in The Evil Within, which were direct manifestations of his psyche and memories, the monsters that are associated with Stefano Valentini in The Evil Within 2 are carriers of much more complicated connotations and symbolisms.

The Guardian, the first monster that attacks Sebastian in Stefano's domain seconds after the twisted photographer appears unexpectedly behind a closed door to capture him in a shot, is a pile of murder victims, as their various body parts can be seen tied around or hanging from her body. Her most prominent characteristic is the upper part of the body which consists of a multitude of heads, all of which are expressionless as if dead, with the exception of the central one which has glowing red eyes and a chilling smile that never leaves her face. The Guardian has the creepy and terrifying habit of giggling like mad as she runs about, while being extremely fast in doing this, and in her right arm she permanently carries a huge circular buzz saw which she uses against her victims.

Stefano is able to summon the Guardian at will, as we can see in the second chapter and later in Chapter 5 outside the City Hall. In the first case, she appears behind a mirror, while just seconds earlier Sebastian catches a glimpse of what looks like her human form in the glass reflection. The human-like Guardian is a dark-haired woman with the same creepy smile stuck on her face.

The "human" Guardian is nearly as creepy as her monster form

In the second case, Stefano first alters the appearance of the City Hall, making it appear as if its roof is missing and covering parts of its interior walls with blue curtains, and then causing the creation of yet one more Guardian who tries to prevent Sebastian from getting inside the building. What is interesting about the Guardian is that although her standard monstrous form seems to be made of female body parts, if we notice how she is actually formed, we will see that she is in fact an amalgam of dead body parts independently of gender.

Sebastian watches as the Guardian emerges from a pile of corpses

Stefano used to be a war photographer, but after the traumatic event that cost him his eye and was partly responsible for his transformation into a vicious and sadistic man, he became a fashion photographer. During that period, his clients and models were mostly women. Subsequently, as his paranoia kicked in and his gruesome concept of capturing the moment of death began to take form, his most obvious victims were those girls who had the bad luck to work with him. It is not that he was a killer of women who purposely chose his victims according to their sex; as a fashion photographer, the girls that he collaborated with were his easiest and most direct prey. This is something that is quite clear in the game's story, as there are also several men among his victims: the first one that Sebastian finds is Mobius lead operative William Baker, and minutes later he becomes a witness as Stefano stabs a young man in the chest; not to mention the soldiers that he kills in Union, and of course Sebastian himself whom Stefano chases with such ardour.

The Guardian's attacks are fast and horrific

The Guardian morbidly illustrates the process that Stefano followed, having the models pose for him and eventually killing them, while on a second level, she is actually the host of all those girls' ghosts. It is as if their ghosts are hovering over Union, looking for a way to take a tangible form. Wherever there are piles of corpses, a Guardian is likely to appear, gathering body parts so as to give herself a palpable - and terrifying - existence. This is pretty similar to how Laura Victoriano would occasionally appear in the first Evil Within: she would emerge from random corpses. The Guardian's mischievous grin relates to how Stefano ordered his models and future victims to smile for him during photoshoots, as this was quite possibly - in most cases, at least - the last thing that the girls were able to do before Stefano killed them or tortured them to death.

Stefano invites Sebastian to smile for him just like he did with his models - victims

Related to the Guardian, but more directly connected to Stefano himself, the terrifying Obscura consists of female body parts and an old-fashioned camera in the place of her head. We can actually see Stefano in the process of making his Obscura, via two disturbing visions in the secret area that lies behind his "art" at the back of Devil's Own Taproom, the bar in the Business District. Obscura, whose name is taken from the photographic term "camera obscura", seems to be an embodiment of a camera, seeing how she has three legs, like the tripod - and a camera lens on top of her body.

Obscura is the incarnation of Stefano's camera

Obscura can be seen having ballet shoes on her three legs, which relates to Stefano's obsession with Tchaikovsky, as the Russian maestro had written music for ballet (although it is known from his biographies that he in fact despised both ballet and opera). For his part, Stefano seems to be very proud of his creation, and up to the point when he makes the most gruesome installation in the theater, Obscura obviously is what he considers to be his greatest work. Something that was going to change, though, as soon after he claims that what he is planning to do with Sebastian is going to be his masterpiece. Thankfully, he doesn't live to realize his last - and undoubtedly perverse - concept.

What makes Obscura more special than his other creations is the fact that she is a creature with which it is possible to interact; she is not a framed work of art which Stefano can gaze at, admiring his own genius. She is, in a very vague and metaphorical sense, alive; she can sort of act on his behalf, and she is as vicious and aggressive as he is. Not only she represents Stefano's twisted concept of art, but she also appears as a live and literal depiction of the obsessive way with which he hunts and captures (both literally and metaphorically) his victims. That said, given that we only see her chase and attack Sebastian, it would be safe to say that her presence acts as some sort of foreshadowing, considering the frantic and manic way with which Stefano chases him later in the theater.

Stefano uses his camera like Obscura uses hers: as a weapon

Although we can see the Lament in various places around Union, and it is not clear whether or not she is a direct product of Stefano's sick experimenting with art, she is a monster that stands out among the rest, and there are certain characteristics that could connect her to him. First of all, the way her body is made, which is similar to the Guardian's: she is comprised of an array of body parts, stuck randomly together, and has long strands of black hair. Secondly, just like the Guardian likes to giggle, the Lament likes to weep - which is, also, the reason why she has that name, as her distinctive sound is a cry-like shrieking voice.

The Lament is as terrifying as she is pathetic

The Lament may be yet one more failed experiment of Mobius, but given that Stefano had Union under his control for quite a while, chasing and murdering people without hesitation and messing with STEM's function, she could very well be another manifestation of his own mentality. Visually, the Lament vaguely resembles a demon from the greek mythology and folklore, the Lamia, who, in some of her depictions, is an extremely ugly woman with contorted facial features, keen on hunting down and devouring little kids or young men and condemned to cry eternally for the loss of her children - just like the Lament roams about and weeps constantly. The Lamia is usually described as giving out a horrible stench, just like the Lament walks in a toxic green cloud and is able to spit acid on Sebastian causing him a lot of damage or even killing him. In that sense, she could be Stefano's inner demon, his ugly soul underneath the impeccable surface, as well as the misery that he is actually going through deep down, which he masterfully hides, even from himself, with adopting the persona of the flamboyant, arrogant artist.

When surrounded by the blue aura, Stefano resembles the Lament with the acid cloud around her

Wandering around Union as pitiful, lonely monsters, the Hysterics are, in fact, extremely interesting creatures. Their appearance is that of a skinny, pale woman, with a bald head from which hang thin strands of white hair. They are wearing ragged white gowns and they can be seen slowly walking or standing in place with their head down, holding a long sharp knife in their hand. When they see Sebastian, they scream hysterically (therefore their name) and they run towards him in full speed, most of the times succeeding in stabbing him nearly to death.

The Hysterics have bloody red hands just like Stefano wears red gloves

If the above description sounds somewhat familiar, it is because it can easily be used in relation to Stefano and the manner with which he expresses his extreme aggression and violence. On the outside he is the exact opposite of the Hysterics: he is male while they are female, he has healthy complexion and black hair while they are pale with white hair, he is dressed in bright, dark colors while their clothes are ragged and faded. Their only visible common elements are that both Stefano and the Hysterics are tall and lean and that both he and them are holding knives - although Stefano's knife is stylish and elaborate while those of the Hysterics are like the tools of a butcher. Other than that, the Hysterics are, essentially, like Stefano's negative version. And not only negative, but also deformed and disfigured.

When the Hysteric attacks in such a way, it is difficult to escape her hit

On the inside, however, they are strikingly similar; something that becomes more than obvious if you notice the way that Stefano rushes towards Sebastian wielding his knife during the second part of the boss fight in Chapter 8. Just like the Hysterics when they see Sebastian, Stefano too is frequently possessed by hysteria during the fight and, in a way very similar to theirs, he runs to catch Sebastian and very little can be done to stop him at that point. The way that he grabs and stabs Sebastian during those sequences is not only extremely vicious, but also particularly suggestive, considering the sexual connotations that the knife, as an object, carries.

Stefano's manic attacks are like those of the Hysterics, albeit with much more style

Combining all these clues, we could say that the Hysterics are a manifestation of Stefano's inner hysteria, which he generally manages to control in his attempt to retain the image of the cool, distinguished artist. However deep down he is constantly in rage and mania, and he eventually reaches a crucial point when he is no longer able to hide behind his stylized self. That point is when he finally finds himself face to face with Sebastian, to whom he is clearly attracted in several conscious and subconscious ways. It is then that he unleashes his inner hysteria, and it is then that his attacks become so similar to those of the Hysterics.

No comments: