The Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite horror movies because it doesn’t rely on cheap tricks like jump-scares; this movie is legitimately terrifying, and it earns every skin-crawling moment.
Even if you’ve never seen it, I don’t need to tell you that Anthony Hopkins is a revelation as the long-imprisoned serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In under 20 minutes of screentime, he creates an unforgettable character, aided by director Jonathan Demme’s unnerving skill with extreme close-ups.
A great villain is crucial, and most people forget that this movie has two: Lecter, and Ted Levine’s more overt antagonist Buffalo Bill. However, Jodie Foster is also perfect as our hero Clarice Starling, completely believable in every interaction and smarter than the audience and her peers in all the right ways. I respect so much that Foster refused to return for the (I’m told) disappointing sequel.
I’m not interested in sequels, prequels, or even the spin-off TV series starring Mads Mikkelsen, which I’ve heard is quite good. The Silence of the Lambs is just the right amount by every measure; apart from some questionable language about mental health and transsexual people (which is vague enough that the filmmakers have plausible deniability), this movie is perfect and very satisfying as a stand-alone work. Highly recommended. ★★★★★