Last night Drew and I watched Silence of the Lambs and then The Shining. Loved them both.
Silence of the Lambs was shot more artistically than I expected it to be. Through most of the dialogue, the characters’ faces are framed up close, looking straight at the camera. Constantly staring into Hannibal Lector’s eyes is frightening all by itself. The performances were every bit as good as people said they were.
Also, I was very surprised by the plot. Apparently I hadn’t had it as spoiled for me as I thought I had.
I’d seen The Shining years ago, and it was every bit as scary as I remembered. Maybe more so.
I remembered it being a pretty straightforward horror flick. But I’d forgotten what makes it so scary. There are supernatural elements, but the crux of the scary is that the female protagonist is locked in a hotel with her abusive and homicidal husband. And it isn’t just the supernatural elements that make him that way. Their relationship shows patterns of abuser and enabler from the very start.
Stephen King understands not just how to scare people, but what actually makes people scared. The Shining is scary not because of the ghosts, but because there are real women whose husbands talk to them that way, yell at them that way, isolate them that way, threaten them that way. Because some husbands really do kill their wives. And even if they aren’t literally isolated in a snowbound hotel, abusers are good at making their victims feel like they are. Yes, the supernatural elements are scary. But scarier by far are the pieces of the film that are real.
Also, Jack Nicholson is the scariest person imaginable. Not even Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal can compare.
That is all.