What most horror films fail to do these days is be scary or intelligent. Looking back some of the best came out of the 90’s e.g. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Scream, and Sleepy Hollow. However, the difining horror work comes in the form of one visceral, utterly terrifying masterpiece.
The story is about an FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, who is tasked with assisting in the capture of the serial killer Buffalo Bill. Seeking help fro mthe psychotic, but sophisticated murderer, Hannibal “the cannibal” Lecter, Clarice has to save the latest victim of Bill before tiem runs out. The case leads the could-be FBI agent on a dark path that builds up to one final gruelling confrontation with Buffalo Bill. The reason that the story is so frightening is because it can be applied firmly to reality unlike a lot of films bearing the horror title.
The effects can be attributed to the immense power of the story. The skull seen on the moth in the story was added on digitally, but aside from that there is not a scrap of CGI on display. The visceral element of the effects is shown through the victims of Buffalo Bill, appearing in the form of photos and, in one case, a girl’s body on a slab. One particularly notable non-computer generated effect comes close to the end when Lecter demonstrates how dangerously brilliant he is. If you’re accustomed to the computer generated trickery of recent days you amy be surprised how far a film can go without big effects.
The characters are all beautifully portrayed thanks to the perfect casting. Jodie Foster is simply wonderful to watch because she successfully embodies that sense of desperation and determination in the face of danger. Anthony Hopkins is as scary as he is creepily charming in the role of Hannibal Lecter who renders some of the dialogue rather thoughtful. The chemistry between Clarice and Lecter is so powerful and brilliant to watch because Foster and Hopkins give their all in every scene. The third terrific performance comes from Ted Levine who is mesmerizing as Buffalo Bill, the main antagonist. Jack Crawford is well played by Scott Glenn who fits into the role finely as does Anthony Heald as Dr.Chilton.
Taking horror to the next level in terms of suspense and grim atmosphere, The Silence of the Lambs is bound to leave the unprepared with a few nightmares as a souvenir. Frightening and brilliantly acted this is heavy stuff.