Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Ray Liotta, and Giancarlo Giannini.
I’ll never forget when I first saw Silence of the Lambs. It was during my grade 9 class trip in the spring of 1992. We went to some youth camp outside of Calgary, and snow had pretty much ruined all our plans. The evening of the third day, we had decided to watch Silence of the Lambs, which one of my classmates had picked up at a Banff gift shop on day 1. But, also that day, a high school class on their class trip showed up at the camp. So, our choice for that evening was clear. We could either watch Silence of the Lambs, or we could fake how mature we were by going and playing Truth or Dare with the high school kids. Since I’ve rambled on this theme before, you could probably guess that I pretty much wound up watching Silence of the Lambs alone while everyone else went off to play Truth or Dare. Was it foreshadowing of things to come? For, 9 years later, I found myself alone, in a darkened theater in Edmonton, watching the long-awaited sequel, Hannibal.
It’s been some years since Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) escaped from prison. In the meantime, he’s been hiding in Florence, Italy and conning his way into a position at a university. Stateside, we have Special Agent Clarice Starling (Moore), and her career hasn’t been going so well. After a drug bust went bad, she was taken off the front lines. Not until Mason Verger (Oldman), the only surviving victim of Hannibal, contacts her with new information about the good doctor’s whereabouts does she get back into action. As Starling begins investigating the new leads, a cop in Florence (Giannini) begins thinking that he just may have stumbled upon one of the FBI’s most wanted. When a murder in Dr. Lecter’s style happens in Italy, Verger knows that soon he will have his vengeance. He conspires with Agent Krendel (Liotta) of the Justice Department to set a trap for Dr. Lecter, and who will be the bait? Why, Starling of course. Who will find Hannibal first? Verger, craving vengeance, or Starling, craving justice? Is it really justice she craves from the doctor? Or, will Hannibal be able to play them all like cheap banjos?
Roger Ebert once said that he only uses one standard to judge comedies: did it make him laugh? Based on that, I guess there’s only one standard to be used to judge a horror movie: did it scare you? Not being a real scary movie fan, it doesn’t take a lot to scare me. But, this film is delightfully creepy. A lot of fuss has been made over the gore in this film, but it’s not really a gory film. Just 2 or 3 spectacularly gory set-pieces, including the now-infamous final scene. Moore makes a fine successor to the role of Starling, as now Starling is a bit more world-weary after being an agent for so long. Liotta is perfectly slimy as a corrupt agent, and Oldman hisses quite menacingly from behind special effects make-up as Verger. (See, Hannibal cut off Verger’s face and fed it to Verger’s hounds.) All in all, I was wise to see it in daylight hours, as it is a wonderfully creepy, scary movie. It loses it’s sole nib because, as I’ve said, I’m not a scary movie kind of guy. Now, who’s up for a game of Truth or Dare?