This week on Wicked Wednesday, I am going to take a look back at one of my favourite horror films, The Silence Of The Lambs. This movie redefined the modern-day horror by adding the psychological aspect of the terrible things people do and making you watch it. It caused a lot of controversy at the time with cinema goers allegedly fainting in the picture houses it was so gruesome. Looking back on it now, I don’t think the visual horror scenes are anything we haven’t really seen before, well maybe a little more gruesome, but the fact that the story and characters get into your mind makes it all the more chilling.
Based on the Thomas Harris novel, the story is about one young FBI woman’s (Jodie Foster) task to save a Senator’s kidnapped daughter who is in the ruthless hands of serial killer Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb played by Ted Levine. In order to do this, she has to enlist the help of another serial killer name Hannibal Lecter, superbly portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. Clarice Starling will face many psychological battles with the evil cannibal in order to gain his confidence and work out the answers to his riddle clues as to who Buffalo Bill is and where he is keeping the girl. Get ready for your worst nightmare.
The film won five Oscars in 1992 and it was all the big ones. This alone tells you that it will be remembered as one of the best films ever made, let alone in its genre and director Jonathon Demme was certainly thrust into the limelight. He disappeared just as quickly strangely enough, but his name will be synonymous in the horror category for this film’s success. Anthony Hopkins is truly creepy as the cannibal Lecter, a character we had seen before in the 1986 movie Manhunter, but on that occasion Brian Cox had played the part. Hopkins really made it his own though and I think its what he will be best known for. Jodie Foster of course was already a household name in Hollywood. The former child star from films such as Taxi Driver and Bugsy Malone was given the lead role here as FBI agent Clarice Starling and the way she shows her initial fear and manages to overcome that by the end of the film is very good and she deserved her Best Actress Oscar for her performance.
As I said, it was a benchmark film that pushed the boundaries of psychological thriller/horror movies and really got inside your head making it all the scarier, just as you thought it couldn’t get any more unthinkable, it shocks you again and again. Lecter appears to have no conscience and will do anything to survive his incarceration whether that me in its physical form or in the form of the release he gets from killing. The movie works on the story within a story concept and its masterfully done. Its not confusing, it gets to the point quickly and still manages to surprise you. Just make sure you’re not on your own while watching this one…
This has to be given a 9.5/10. It is one of the few films that I give such a high mark to, but everything is just so good about it, plot, acting and direction, there is little you can fault about it. I just can’t bring myself to give it a 10 though as there are better films that I give that mark to, but I would say that its well up there in terms of favourite horror movies. There have of course been sequels and a prequel to the movie, but they have been more focussed on the character of Lecter himself rather than plot and haven’t done quite as well. The success of this film is not only measured on the awards it won, but also on the money it made. An estimated budget of just $19M gave return worldwide of over $240M! making almost its budget back in its opening weekend. Breathtaking. So make you see it if you haven’t already.