Monday, June 9, 2014

Movie Review #21: The Silence of the Lambs

I remember going to the video store often as a kid. My family rented movies regularly. I would primarily gravitate toward the video game section, of course. However, I recall certain movie covers that would stand out to me, and which still stick in my brain even today.

One of those movie covers was for The Silence of the Lambs. It was often prominently displayed in the horror section, and the cover scared the crap out of me. As a result, I kind of avoided anything to do with the movie, and even when I finally actually watched the movie this week I still only had a fuzzy picture of what the movie was about, mostly based on pop culture references.

I'm honestly not a horror movie person. That said, I enjoyed The Silence of the Lambs very much. It was not at all what my 7-year-old self imagined it to be.


A serial killer is on the loose, kidnapping women and dumping their bodies randomly within a radius of a few states. The FBI, in an attempt to understand this murderer known as "Buffalo Bill," has been interviewing other serial killers who might be willing to share some insight.

An aspiring agent is sent to interview Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychopath known to eat his victims. Lecter seems to know something, but his information comes at a price...


 Even the most deranged criminal is still human.

This is the theme that leads Agent Starling to her victory over Buffalo Bill. By approaching Lecter and treating him with courtesy (something which Lecter values highly) she opens a dialogue with him, which leads to a mutual understanding between the two characters--a mutual respect, even though one of them is behind bars.

Everyone who deals with Lecter normally has these rules in place to dehumanize him as much as possible. Over the course of the movie, Starling breaks each of these rules in turn and ends up rewarded for it.

Likewise, it's only by understanding Buffalo Bill as a person that she manages to track him down (albeit, accidentally).

This is the second movie in a row with a strong heroine. I wonder if I can get a streak going! Jodie Foster did a great job.

Hannibal himself also seemed like a cool, interesting character--a psychopath who is neither unlikable nor the villain. I like characters like that. If I even play in an evil D&D campaign again, I think I've found inspiration for the sort of character I'd play.

Anyway, I wouldn't classify this as a horror movie--those video stores I want to as a kid didn't know what they were talking about. The closest thing to horror in the movie was when Agent Starling chased Buffalo Bill into his basement, and even then it was mostly just suspenseful--I'd say that the final showdown in Blade Runner was a more unnerving experience.

It's clear to me why this movie won five Academy Awards. Well done.


  1. Hah! Now I know the reason you couldn't think of anything more evil than Master Roshi/The Janitor from Scrubs for my first evil campaign - you just missed out on every great iconic evil character before you started watching movies.

    This is a great movie. This film is solidly a thriller, and as such is driven by tension. But the horror label isn't completely inaccurate, I'd say. The film does in fact revolve around a killer who wants to wear the skin of his victims.

    1. I guess I'm a bit jaded, since the mere concept of wearing someone else's skin doesn't frighten me that much. It's awful, sure, but not frightening.

      I suspect you may be right about my experience with evil characters, to some degree. Specifically, I hadn't found many evil characters I could admire or relate to on some level.

      That has since changed, what with people like The Master from Doctor Who and Moriarty from the new Sherlock coming around. Clearly Stephen Moffat and I share a taste in villains.