• Ceris

Ceris' 31 Days of Horror Challenge: The Silence of the Lambs

Another not so new one for me today – but one I can’t work out if I like or not!

Clarice Starling, an FBI agent, seeks help from Hannibal Lecter, a psychopathic serial killer and former psychiatrist, in order to apprehend another serial killer who has been claiming female victims.

Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee is completing her training at Quantico Virginia FBI facility, specifically running an assault course when we meet her, when she is called to the office of Mr Jack Crawford from the Behavioural Science unit. Crawford tells Clarice that he knows she wants to join his unit and thought of her when a certain ‘job’ came up. He wants her to interview Hannibal Lecter – or Hannibal or Cannibal as Clarice realises – as he thinks Lecter may be able to provide more insight into the mind of psychopaths and solve some historic crimes.


Clarice finds herself at Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where she meets Dr Frederick Chilton who is basically a twat who is very rude and clearly doesn’t think a woman is up to the job. He takes her to Lecter’s cell, instructing her to stay away from the glass, not handing him anything sharp – I feel that that is a given – and not to accept anything from him in return. Barney the nice assistant, opens a gate to let Clarice through to the cells and informs her he has put a chair out for her ready, but warns her to stay to the right when walking past the cells. As she walks, several of the prisoners call out to her, making her uncomfortable.


As she reaches the end of corridor, she comes face to face with Lecter, who is stood in the middle of his cell looking out at her, greeting her by name. He asks to see her ID, where he works out, she is just a trainee, and mocks her for it, telling her Jack must be busy to have sent her. Clarice makes small talk with him, admiring his drawings, and revealing she knows who he is and what he did to his victims. Lecter reveals he knows she is there to help the FBI find the new killer on the block – Buffalo Bill. She gives him a questionnaire to fill out, however he is offended by this, and tells her to fly away back to school. Clearly disappointed, she walks back towards the gate, however Miggs, one of Lecter’s neighbours, thrown semen at her as she passes, causing the other prisoners to be angry, not least Lecter himself, who screams at Starling to come back to his cell and tells her to look up one of his patients Ms Mofet, who can give her more information. Clarice runs out of the hospital and collapses on her car and cries after a flashback which reveals her father was also a policeman.

Back at the academy, Starling continues with her training, as well as continuing to research Lecter and his crimes. She receives a call from Crawford who informs her that Miggs – the semen throwing guy – is dead, and Lecter had been whispering him all afternoon, making him cry and ultimately causing him to choke on his own tongue. Crawford asks Clarice if she has had any luck finding Ms Mofet, she advises she hasn’t but was thrown by the way Lecter said ‘Yourself’ and so using the fact she knows Lecter is from Baltimore, she looks up Yourself in the phonebook and find a storage unit, where the owner advises her unit 31 is rented out by a Miss Hester Mofet and prepaid in full for 10 years. After struggling to get the door open, she rolls inside and finds a hearse inside the unit, complete with severed head inside a jar, which I won’t lie looks like me after a heavy night out!


Sterling goes back to visit Lecter, and tells him she has figured out his riddle, but she appears to be talking to an empty cell, when the food hatch opens, and a dry towel is passed to her. The lights come on and Lecter in sat on the floor of his cell, and he wants to talk about Buffalo Bill, but Starling presses him about the head in the jar. Turns out to be a man named Benjamin, who was a manic depressive, however Lecter tells her that he didn’t kill him but found him that way.


Lecter tells Clarice that he thinks Crawford fancies her and wants to fuck her in exchange for helping with his career, but Clarice compares him to Miggs, but Lecter isn’t phased. Lecter tells her that he knows he will never be let out of the prison alive but wants her to help him get moved to a federal institution where he can see out of a window, and more importantly get away from Chilton – and I can’t blame him cos Chilton is annoying. Hannibal tells Clarice he can help catch Buffalo Bill by putting together a psychological profile of him, and reminders her that he isn’t going anywhere, but instead asks how much longer she can wait to find Bill.

We find our self in Memphis, with a young blonde woman is driving her car and singing along to the radio, before we see a man with night vision goggles track the car at a car park. The mystery man is trying to load a sofa into a van with only one arm – the other one is broken – and naturally the nice lady offers to help. Really bad mistake as she gets into the van to help move the sofa and he beats her up, shuts the doors and cuts her clothes off her, revealing her smooth back. He drives the van away leaving her shopping and ripped clothing on the floor.


Clarice gets pulled from her training again after a body is found in a river in West Virginia and seems to be linked to Buffalo Bill. During the plane ride, Crawford tells her that three girls have been found and asks Clarice to tell him what their evidence shows so far – she tells him the killer is a white male, who owns his own house and is good at killing people – seems pretty accurate to me. They meet with the local police force who are really not happy that the FBI are there, and even less happy that one of them is female – sexist much! Turns out they have met in a funeral home, and Clarice sees a funeral happening and instantly has a flash back to her own father’s funeral.


In another room, the girl’s body is under a black tarp ready to be examined, with the trio of FBI agents putting paste under their nose to help with the obvious smell of decomposing body that’s on the table – you know it bad when even the normal morticians recoil at the smell. Clarice examines the body and determines she died of wrongful death, but also picks up on a few other details, including that she has something in her throat, which turns out to be a bug cocoon, and when they turn the body over, they noticed the skin removed from her back is in a different formation to previous. Having preserved the cocoon, Clarice takes it to a museum, where he meets some bug specialists and hope they can identify the insect. They cut open the cocoon to reveal the insect as a Death-Head Moth, and they reveal they are only found in Asia and take someone to really look after them in order for them to survive.

Cue the first part of the film to make my skin crawl. A room full of moths and a naked bill sewing and a woman shouting from a deep well. Turns out the girl who got abducted by the man with a van – is a senator’s daughter – something tells me Bill has slipped up here and he doesn’t yet know it. Clarice learns about the kidnapping alongside her colleagues with a plea from Catherine’s mother on the telly – little do they know Bill is incapable of being empathetic.


Starling is back with Lecter, much to the annoyance of Dr Chilton, and she tells Lecter that if he helps them catch Billy boy before Catherine dies, he will be moved to a different hospital in New York, with a view of the trees – but still under maximum security, and once a year he can go and be free on Plum Island, walking on the beach and swimming in the sea – under SWAT surveillance mind – although those that murder can’t be choosers I think. Lecter seems to be interested, for 0.2 seconds, instead telling Clarice he wants to know personal things about herself for him to help her. He asks her what her worse childhood memory is, and she reveals that her father was shot dead by burglars, and due to having lost her mother at a young age she became an orphan aged 10. In fairness to Lecter, he asks about the murdered girl, and she reveals she was found with something in her throat, and he asks if it is a butterfly (creepy and too accurate for my liking) and she confirms it’s a moth.


Lecter tells her that a butterfly represents change, but before he goes on to say more, he asks Clarice where she lived after her father died, with her revealing she lived on a ranch in Montana with her mother’s cousin but ran away after 2 months. Lecter explains that Billy isn’t a transvestite and has probably applied to several hospitals to have a sex change as he is unhappy with the person he is and therefore thinks he is a transvestite – its very weird to think that this is how he thinks he will accept himself. Little do Starling and Lecter know, but Dr Chilton has been listening in on their conversation, and he is clearly going to use it for his own gain, and he is already annoyed Clarice is there.


Next comes my least favourite part of the film - I HATE the way Bill says these lines, legit makes my skin crawl and Adam says it to me in that voice just to wind me up. Buffalo Bill is making poor Catherine rub lotion on herself, but she is begging him to let her go- this is the only time we seem any sort of empathy from him, however this doesn’t last when he mocks her for screaming when she realises other women have been kept inside the pit.

Back in Lecter’s cell, Chilton is lying on his bed while Lecter is tied to a back board and his poor nose is squished by a metal frame. Chilton tells him that no deal was made, and Starling lied to him but he has now arrange with the senator to release Lecter to a state prison if he tells them who Bill really is. Lecter seems very interested in the pen Chilton has left on the bed and tell him that Bills first name is Louis but will only tell Senator Martin the last name when he meets her face to face.


Jack receives a call asking if Clarice lied about the deal with her to Lecter and Jack admits he is the one behind it. Getting off the plane, we see Lecter in the iconic bite mask, and Chilton is asked to sign the transfer document, and what can’t he find? His pen and I can only guess who’s got it. Senator Martin meets with Lecter and shows him a contract confirming his new rights, but Lecter tells her he isn’t going to waste any more time and hopes Catherine isn’t already doomed – much to the Senators dismay. Lecter reveals Bills name is Louis Friend and he knew him because he was the love of Benjamin Raspail, one of Lecters patients, who got scared when he found out Louis had killed a man.


Lecter then asks a series of very weird questions about the Senator breastfeeding her daughter and asks where it will tickle when Catherine is on the slab – bit of a dick move and results in him being ordered back to Baltimore. In an attempt to save himself, Lecter reveals a physical description of Billy and tells them where he believes he is from but tells them Bill may have lied to him. Dr Chilton is giving a press conference, claiming he is responsible for getting Lecter to reveal this information and in engrossed in his five minutes of fame, he fails to spot Clarice entering the building behind him to go and see Lecter – who I can’t imagine is particularly looking forward to see her after she lied to him.

Lecter is like a posh animal in a cage, set up in the middle of a large empty room, reading a book and he asks if Jack sent her, but she tells him she wanted to see him. Lecter tells her he is impressed with her lies, but Clarice cuts to the chase and tells him she knows Louis Friend is another anagram for Fools Gold. Lecter tells her that all the information she needs to find Bill is in the case notes and begins to make her think about the elements of the pages and tries to go back to his Quid Pro Quo of her telling him personal details in exchange for him giving her more information. Clarice reveals the day she ran away from the farm, she was woken up by the sound of the spring lambs in the shed screaming while being slaughtered. Lecter tells her he knows that she thinks if she saves Catherine, she will stop the lambs from screaming – but before Clarice can get a name out of Lecter she is removed from the room with the case files given back by Lecter.


Back in his cage, Lecter is listening to classical music while a drawing of Clarice holding a lamb sits on the desk – and an excellent drawing it is too. The two prison guards bring over a plate of food while talking about how Lecter has demanded another plate of food. Unbeknownst to them, Lecter is regurgitating something he swallowed earlier, and we can only guess how this will end as the guard unlocks the cage.


Having handcuffed him to the railings, they then enter the cage, not realising the Hannibal has undone his handcuffs. He cuffs one guard to the railings and eats the face of the other before spraying him with mace, and then beating the tied up guard with his own baton, is leaving the place sprinkled with blood. Sergent Pembry is still alive and attempts to escape but Lecter has other ideas.

Down on the ground floor the police are shocked to see the lift going up to floor 5 and then hearing gun shots, before the lift comes back down stopping on floor 3. They decided to go looking for Pembry and Doyle but are horrified to find Doyle dismembered and hanging up from the ceiling, Pembry is lying on the floor but is still alive, while the team look for an escaped and armed Lecter. While in the lift on the way to take the injured officer down, the ceiling appears to start bleeding and the SWAT team move in and find him lying on the roof of the lift. Needing him alive but seeing he has a gun close by, they shoot him in the leg but there is no movement – anyone know what’s happened? In the lift, the team pull the hatch to find its not Lecter, but its actually Pembry – missing a face.


Starling finds out Lecter has escaped and killed the paramedics and a tourist and has done runner out of the US, but its okay she is sure he wont kill her – I’ve seen this film before and even I’m not sure he isn’t going to come find her! Quick flash to Billy boy making his skin dress – grim. Clarice and her friend are going through the files and based on what Lecter has told her about Buffalo Bill, she works out that he knew his first victim which is why he chose her, and she goes looking for more clues by visiting Mr Bimmel, the father of the victim. He tells her she went into Chicago for a job interview and never came home. Clarice goes to her bedroom which has remained untouched and finds a music box which she promptly rips open to reveal some semi-nude photos of Ms Bimmel. She finds out the Frederika was a tailor and sees some semi-finished dresses with patterns that match the sections of skin taken off his victims. She phones Crawford to tell him Bill is making a suit out of human skin, but he advises her they know who Bill is, a guy called Jamie Gumb/John Grant, and they are on the way to arrest him and she needs to find a link to Frederika to get him done for murder.


Back in Bill’s prison, he is in his own little world again by dancing nude and trying to be a woman, not realising that Catherine is trying to capture his dog Precious as a way of blackmailing him into letting her out. Clarice is talking to Frederika’s friend to try and get more details of how she knew Jamie Gumb.

Bill is checking in on his bugs when he hears Precious crying and finds that Catherine has lured her into the pit and is demanding a phone. The FBI agents are outside a house ready to arrest Jamie – but I don’t think they are where they need to be. Billy boy is losing his shit and grabs a gun but is interrupted but the doorbell going off, just as the FBI rings the door bell.


So the FBI have the wrong house, obviously. But Clarice does have the right house and Jack realises she is in danger. Clarice is stood literally talking to a murderer and then willingly goes into his house – although in fairness he seems normal – but an escaped Death-Head moths gives the game away and she readies her weapon. She draws her gun but Bill isn’t having none of it and retreats to his lair where is waits silently – this part of the film stresses me out cos I hate not knowing where he is.


Having entered the creepy basement, she can hear Catherine Martin screaming from the pit and she is NOT happy when Clarice says she has to step out for a moment – does she not realise that the killer is still in the house. In the bathroom, she finds the remains of Mrs Lipmann, just as the lights go out and we suddenly view the film through the night vision goggles of Bill. He stalks Clarice and gets to within touching distance of her, however as he cocks his gun to kill her, her FBI training kicks in and he is deado.


The FBI rock up after the event and Catherine is free but refuses to let go of the dog. At her graduation ceremony, Clarice receives a phone call from one Hannibal Lecter, who asks her if the lambs have stopped screaming. He won’t tell her where he is but tells her he won’t be coming looking for her, but she tells him (obviously) she can’t say the same about him. Lecter then says he has to go as he is having ‘an old friend for dinner’ and he walks behind Dr Chilton – and while I’m against cannibalism and murder, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Fantastic ending mind!

I do very much enjoy this film – other than Bill, he creeps me out – but I struggled to write this review as I kept having to stop the film to write things down before I forgot! It’s a fun flick and I love the true crime aspect of it.