The Daily Horror Movie goes to the Oscars with “The Silence of the Lambs”

Willa Young

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Up for today: One of the only Oscar-winners on the list, 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs.”

I’m going to be perfectly honest. I have a very large crush on “The Silence of the Lambs.”

Yes, I am aware that it is about an insane cannibalistic serial killer. Yes, I am aware how that must make me look. No, I do not care.

For those of you who have not seen “The Silence of the Lambs” and therefore have not lived, I’ll give you some background. Jodie Foster plays Clarice Starling, a rookie FBI agent. Starling is pulled from training and given the job to interview a psychiatrist-turned-cannibalistic-serial-killer named Hannibal Lecter, played by the master himself, Anthony Hopkins. The FBI is looking for a serial killer, nicknamed Buffalo Bill, who skins his victims, and they believe Lecter will have insight on him. The relationship that forms between Lecter and Agent Starling as they both attempt to pull information from the other is both fascinating and terrifying as the time bomb ticks away for Buffalo Bill’s next victim.

In addition to being one of only three movies ever to win the “Big Five Academy Awards” (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay), “The Silence of the Lambs” is the only horror film to ever win Best Picture. It is smart, thrilling, and stunning, and walks the tightrope between a psychological mind explosion and butt-clenching horror. And yes, “butt-clenching” is absolutely the best word to describe the terror that I endured the first time I watched Hannibal Lecter’s escape scene.

Foster’s Agent Starling is a timeless heroine. Her performance has endured, setting a precedent for other actors to attempt to recreate. Her subtlety and outward strength mingled with her inner anxiety is something I literally bow to in front of the television.

But what really makes this film extraordinary is the character Anthony Hopkins creates in Hannibal Lecter. His portrayal is so iconic that people often forget he was only on screen for about 16 minutes, a tiny chunk of the film. There were several times when I first watched “The Silence of the Lambs” that I nearly peed myself just at the sight of his curious face. I am not ashamed. His eyes seem to never change expression, and his smile is as forbidding as it is seemingly seductive. As terrifying as he is, there is something about his mind that pulls not only Agent Starling, but every viewer in. It is nothing short of brilliant.

I’m getting a bit too fan-girly now. What you really have to know is that “The Silence of the Lambs” will force you to hide under your bed for about six months and yet beg for more. You may also find yourself enjoying some fava beans and a nice Chianti for dinner – just hold the liver.