Horror movies, while popular with the mainstream audience, rarely get the recognition they deserve when award season eventually comes around. Pushed to the wayside in favor of cliche-riddled films about love, life, and art, the Oscars are the most predictable hodgepodge of an award show ever. There are exceptions, though: take 1992’s Oscar show, which showed that horror films aren’t always completely ignored, with the disturbing thriller Silence of the Lambs winning a total of 5 (!!!) awards over the course of the show. Lambs won Best Picture, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress (Jodie Foster), Best Director (Jonathan Demme), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally) on top of being nominated for Best Sound Design and Best Film Editing. In 1992, it seems the old folks at the Academy gave the most deserving film of 1991 the awards, and with good reason. If you’d have to list the most important horror films of all time, chances are Silence of the Lambs would be up there in the top 3 with The Exorcist and Psycho, mainly for introducing the world to Hannibal Lecter and bringing in a wave of art house thrillers disguised as horror movies to the mainstream world.
Silence of the Lambs tells the story of young FBI recruit Clarice Starling (Foster) as she teams up with the brilliant but deadly psychopath that is Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins), putting their minds together to catch the brutal and disturbing serial killer who goes by the name of Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine). As they work together, Lecter makes plans behind Clarice’s back that will eventually trick her, while she realizes she might have bitten off more than she could chew with this case as Buffalo Bill’s rampage continues. What makes Silence of the Lambs just so brilliant is the disguises it hides behind to fool you. What maybe at the surface looks like a straightforward mystery/horror/thriller is actually an intellectual look into the minds of two serial killers with different perspectives to differentiate themselves. Tag onto this the phenomenal acting (Hopkins and Levine are so much more terrifying than any serial killer that came before them in horror) and the phenomenal structure built by director Jonathan Demme, and you have the most Academy-friendly horror film to have ever graced the silver screen. To put it simply, The Silence of the Lambs is a horror film your grandparents will enjoy! With all that being said, if you haven’t seen it, then you’re missing out on one hell of a ride.
The Silence of the Lambs
dir. Jonathan Demme
Screens at the Coolidge Corner Theatre at 11:59PM, 7/29