The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Review by Carson Hearne

Running Time: 2 hours 18 minutes

MPAA Rating: R

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(based on the 1981 novel by Thomas Harris)

Written by: Ted Tally

Directed by: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, and Anthony Heald

The Silence of the Lambs is a film that is immensely praised and has been reviewed and critiqued to the smallest of details. Therefore, I can’t personally say anything that hasn’t been said by half of the United States already (unless I was Derrick “Hannibal is better than Silence of the Lambs” Carter). Hannibal Lecter is a pop culture horror icon who is easily recognized by the average person without having even viewed the movie. The real question for me when I sat down to watch this film again is, does it still hold up as it did when I first fell in love with the brilliantly edited storytelling?

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Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is a FBI agent in training who is sent to talk to the meticulous and cunning psychiatric cannibal, Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). Starling is put on an odd case of a serial killer who takes to skinning his victims, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine). As another girl is kidnapped and time is running shorter, Starling realizes that her hope lies in Lecter who seems to have the answers to Buffalo Bill’s identity. But, Hannibal is only willing to tell under one condition, Clarice must open up her darkest secrets with him.

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Silence is probably one of the darkest and most disturbing films that I’ve ever experienced due to it’s ominous simplicity and intense subjects. It’s so brilliant and the scariness behind this film isn’t in the fact that a lot happens, because there really isn’t much going on. But, it’s the fact that it seems so realistic, these characters are so sinister due to their complex personalities and the desire we see in these horrific eyes cast an aura around this film that goes beyond the realm of the visual and eventually retreats back into the most depraved places.

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The acting across the board is absolutely superb. The only person that I really did not like or understand is Clarice’s friend who shows up in the last 30 minutes just to explain shit to her. I found that her purpose was literally to run down one hall, explain stuff blatantly to Clarice, and then root her on at her graduation. There just wasn’t any depth or reason in this cliche, completely undeveloped character. This is my only complaint with this nearly flawless masterpiece.

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The Silence of the Lambs is easily one of the most brilliant horror/psychological thriller films ever made because it doesn’t try to throw gore and scary looking things in your face. It doesn’t try to scare you at all, it uses real situations and without forcing them it makes the sequences absolutely bone-chilling. This is a mental rollercoaster of a film and shows that action and gore isn’t everything. I’m sorry, Derrick, but Hannibal falls way short of the simple brilliance of The Silence of the Lambs.

Grade: A+

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