The Silence of the Lambs (1991)–movie review

silence of the lambs poster

Director:  Jonathan Demme

Starring:  Jodi Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Anthony Heald, Ted Levine

 

This is the first review I’ve done on what I consider to be one of the Epic films in the Horror genre.  The greatness of The Silence of the Lambs speaks for itself by simply checking out the film’s accolades:  Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Writing.  The Silence of the Lambs was the first horror film to launch itself onto the list of the best movies of all times.  Its characters are unforgettable, specifically Hannibal Lector—who often appears on these lists as the number one villain in cinematic history.  Long story short—not only is The Silence of the Lambs one of the greatest horror films of all times, it’s one of the greatest films, period.  With that, let’s begin.

NBC debuted a new series this year called Hannibal, which I was incredibly impressed with, but that review is for another time.  I only mention it because it’s the catalyst that rekindled my interest in the Hannibal Lecter films and as an added bonus, my wife loved the show as well and had never seen the Hannibal Lecter films (she’s a late bloomer when it comes to horror, but she’s coming around).  With these proverbial stars in alignment my wife and I settled down to a nice relaxing evening with Dr. Lecter and the show began.

Anyone that’s spent any time meddling with the horror genre has probably heard at least some kind of storyline for The Silence of the Lambs, so I’ll only give a quick synopsis here and move on to my thoughts about the film.  FBI cadet Clarice Starling is recruited by the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science division to help catch a serial killer that is skinning young girls alive.  Starling visits an incarcerated former criminal psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, in hopes of gaining some insight into the mind of the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill.  Dr. Lecter and Starling develop a strange, and mutually respectful relationship with each other, and eventually Lecter’s tips lead Starling to the lair of the murderer.  The film ends in a cinematically powerful showdown in the killer’s basement, and Starling walks away as a hero.  While all of this is going on Hannibal Lecter manages to escape and presumably vanishes.  The film ends at Starling’s FBI graduation, where she gets a phone call from Dr. Lecter, who tells her not to worry as he finds her far too interesting to harass or—read between the lines—kill and subsequently eat (oh yeah, Hannibal “the Cannibal” eats his victims).  The credits roll as Hannibal hangs up and follows the Director of the Insane Asylum (who Hannibal despised) where he was formally held through the streets of a 3rd world country and we can only presume that this individual will soon be a recipe component in a glorious quiche, or perhaps a Cajun chili–I’m not sure what Hannibal was jonesing for at the time but he definitely seems like the kind of chap that digs chili.

 

hannibal mask       “Good evening, Clarice…”

 

 

Anyway, that’s the gist of the story, and I’ve left it purposely vague, because what’s most impressive about The Silence of the Lambs is how powerful the performances are.  As creepy as Mads Mikkelsen is as Dr. Lecter in NBC’s Hannibal, nobody—I mean NOBODY—can play Hannibal Lecter like Anthony Hopkins.  The man’s performance is nothing short of one of the greatest acting displays in the history of film.  He drips with the absolutely impeccable combination of worldly class and other-worldly insanity.  Plus he eats people—I mean, technically you could have put Sam Kinison in the role and it still would have been creepy as shit.  For those of you who are too young to know who Sam Kinison is, first off God bless you for embracing a horror film that’s almost as old as you are, and secondly, substitute some douche-bag like Ashton Kutcher and you get the idea, even though it’s not as funny as my original joke.  Grow up, would you?!?  Point is, the Lecter character was brilliantly written but Anthony Hopkins made it legendary and earned a much deserved Oscar for the role.  Combine this with some infamous imagery, like Lecter wearing the dissected face of one of his captors as a disguise or the wildly disturbing penis-tuck scene and The Silence of the Lambs solidifies its place on any top horror film of the century list.

If you happen to have NOT seen this one yet you MUST make it the next movie you view; no exceptions.  This one is a rite of passage into horror “adulthood.”  So pour yourself a nice Chianti, take a crack at grilling some lamb chops and prepare yourself for one of the greatest horror films this blogger has ever seen.

 

–Tysontyson headshot

 

The Verdict

Overall:

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Plot:

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Acting:

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Gore:

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Atmosphere:

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Suspense:

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