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First-Time Watch Review - The Silence of the Lambs

by Dana Andersen. Published Sun 05 Jul 2020 10:23

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Following Clarice Starling as she interviews the terrifying Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lectre, attempting to use his skills to catch another serial killer, The Silence of the Lambs has become an icon in movie history, a movie everyone has seen. So, whats it like to watch it for the first time in 2020?

It’s as unsettling and horrifying as it would have been to see in the cinema. Horror movies from the 90’s are all too often chock full of effects and pop culture references, that have usually aged terribly, and The Silence of the Lambs has none of that.

The horror is timeless, Anthony Hopkins is entirely believable as a murderer, his smile never reaches his eyes, and expressions that should be friendly, come across as cold and calculated.

He’s almost in uncanny valley range, because although he looks human, and you know in reality he is, theres something just so off about him that it feels like he can’t be.

Worst of all, you can tell Hannibal is always the smartest person in the room, making him all the more intimidating.

Meanwhile Jodie Fosters performance is so natural, she’s instantly likeable, leaving your heart in your throat every time she gets too close to the cannibal in the cage.

Her character has a strength reminiscent of The X-Files Dana Scully. She’s strong, outspoken, and clever, while having to comply herself to life in a mans world, certainly a role we’re beginning to see more of in modern media too.

Watching movies like The Matrix and Terminator 2 for the first time leaves you waiting for ‘the moment’.

The scene thats been reenacted and parodied to death, and although Hannibal’s gut clenching hiss is, of course, one of the best known moments of the film, other moments that come across as equally iconic, are entirely unrecognisable, and could still be considered new and refreshing for the horror genre today.

Where some films are explained and parodied, to a point of people who have never seen it before knowing what happens, The Silence of the Lambs is not a film anyone explains adequately enough for the gore and terror to be in anyway expected.

Buffalo Bill is also a rarely discussed element of the movie, presumably because just how the hell do you offer any explanation of what that man is. He’s fascinating, because despite his obvious insanity, and total lack of any redeeming qualities, you almost want to see more of him.

The scenes in which he communicates with the girl he kidnapped elicit an emotional response on par with some documentaries, he sends shivers down your spine, but you still know in the back of your mind, he’s no where near as bad as Hannibal.

It’s rare for such a well known movie, to have so many surprises in store for someone viewing it decades after its release. It’s a clear sign that the psychological horror, and physical gore, explored with in the movie is just too much to talk about, even for a generation that grew up chatting casually about traps from the Saw franchise.

It’s not the type of movie to stick with you, anymore. We’ve all been looking over our shoulders in the dark for too long now, to be scared of a fictional serial killer, but its not one to be forgotten quickly either.

With Hopkins and Foster both providing fantastic performances, gore thats horrific while being contained enough to ignite your curiosity, and a plot that’s driven throughout, leaving few moments to consider what may come next, The Silence of the Lambs is a film that absolutely holds up to modern expectations.


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