The Silence of the Lambs

Oh lookie, another horror movie. The random number generator wasn’t kind to me this fortnight. But, I was pleasantly surprised by Cabin in the Woods, so…

I am not expecting to enjoy The Silence of the Lambs. I know its one of the Hannibal Lecter films, and therefore has cannibalism as a theme. Which is not inherently a problem- it’ll depend on how graphically it is portrayed. I am coming to realize that my problem with horror is less about the horror and more about the gore, so this will be a huge factor on my enjoyment of this movie.


Earlier this evening, after asking what I was watching tonight, one of my flatmates remarked that she didn’t know why this project didn’t have more rules, specifically around the lack of genre restriction for horror and my unwillingness to veto. My answer was that, at the time I came up with this idea, I didn’t think about it, and now I’m committed. And that’s all true. But the reason that I haven’t changed the rules to something more ‘sensible’ is because movies like The Silence of the Lambs exist.

I was pretty sure I was going to dislike this movie, and if I was exercising more direct control over my movie choices, I probably wouldn’t have watched it. And that would have been a damn shame, because this was an excellent movie. It was gripping, and the build up really dragged me in.

I really like hyper-intelligent criminals. It’s an idea that really appeals to me. I can see a lot of the inspiration for other works that lean on this trope came from this movie, and the reasons why are obvious. Hannibal Lecter is a really intense evil genius (and that is in no small part due to the absolutely on point acting), and it would be really hard to follow it without paying homage.

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Good:

  • Send in a student to deal with the smartest criminal ever! Genius!
  • Going to a storage locker that Hannibal Goddamn Lecter sends you to alone seems really unwise
  • This FBI shrink thinks he is the main character in this story
  • Museum dwelling ubernerds
  • Sure, tell the monster your life story, what could possibly go wrong
  • ‘That’s Pembrey!’ Say it once, and I believe you. Say it three more times, and I KNOW that ain’t Pembrey.
  • Facial mask. Great for your skin, I hear.
  • We covet what we see every day
  • FBI cake

Bad:

  • Tension between local law enforcement and the feds. Yawn.
  • Sewing human skin. nopenopenopenopenopenope
  • Do they make music boxes that play things that aren’t It’s A Small World After All?
  • DON’T GO DOWN THERE. YOU HAVE NO BACKUP AND NOBODY KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE.

The Cabin in the Woods

I remember the buzz around The Cabin in the Woods when it came out. Apparently its horror/comedy piece with a twist that is really good, or well executed, or something like that. Despite horror not really being my thing I had intended to see it in cinemas, but missed the opportunity – I think it got a very limited cinema run here. So, despite my reservations about horror was a genre, I am cautiously optimistic about The Cabin in the Woods.


The Cabin in the Woods was fantastic.

One of the problems that I have with horror movies is that they always seem contrived. Most of the tropes on the genre set my teeth on edge. The characters don’t react in ways I find believable, the villain or monster usually stretches my disbelief a little far, etc. And then there’s my aversion to gore (though it does seem like I’m gradually adjusting to that). But The Cabin in the Woods subverted all those things.

The characters do dumb things because they are being manipulated (and I love the range of subtlety involved – from slow-leech chemicals planted in hair dye right through to good old fashioned explosions). The monsters are literally manifestations of eldritch power in the shape of folklore (I think, anyway). And sure, there are forcefields and and an implausibly large number of cameras. But the difference is, these aren’t horror tropes. They aren’t on my shitlist. I’m a D&D player and a scifi reader. These are MY tropes. I can accept them.

The Cabin in the Woods is as much a scifi/fantasy story as it is a horror story, and the fusion was really well executed. Kudos.

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Good:

  • I’m sure introducing the hot leading female in her underwear is a bad thing….buuuuut I’m not complaining honestly
  • All of the characters were introduced and I didn’t take an immediate dislike to any of them
  • No actual eagles were harmed in the making of this movie.
  • In terms of response to someone undressing on the other side of the one way mirror, I’m pretty sure my reaction would be closer to hers than his
  • Somehow, the dudebro is my favourite character.
  • So, the blonde is a furry, right? If not, why is that character not an actress, because she seemed very into that wolf makeout
  • SCP: Containment Breach. I think the snake was my favourite.

Bad:

  • The sign says Closed, why the fuck are you going inside?
  • This point was originally about the idiocy of reading the passage of ancient dead languages aloud, but then I remembered that I’ve done this in a D&D campaign sooooo I guess they get a pass on that one
  • Okay seriously how many cameras so they have wired into this place that they have multiple angles literally anywhere in the forest?
  • Unresolved plot thread: the power re-route from ‘upstairs’ that caused Demolitions to miss the memo
  • IN WHAT SCENARIO IS A BIG RED BUTTON THAT RELEASES EVERY SINGLE MONSTER A THING YOU WANT TO HAVE?

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is a Studio Ghibli film, so I have some idea what to expect from it. I expect it to be beautifully animated but visually strange and complex, probably quite weird story-wise, and possibly heart-wrenching. I  expect to thoroughly enjoy it. I have no doubt seen bit and pieces of this movie before, but I’m pretty confident I’ve never seen it all the way through.


Princess Mononoke is a beautiful film. This almost goes without saying – it is what Studio Ghibli is known for. That soft but distinct animation style is a huge draw for me, even if the designs that they evoke are often somewhat disturbing.

I got a bit lost in the movie, honestly. It washed over me like a wave and pulled me under, caught in the current. Fantastical movies do that to me sometimes. They just become a holistic experience, something greater than it’s parts. An experience.

In the details, the plot is quite grim. A young man is dying of a curse that is slowly consuming his body, and leaves his home in search of a cure. He finds a violent three-way conflict between the Emperor’s samurai, an independent community of ironworkers, and the doomed spirits of the forest. Nobody is in the right, everyone is committed, and all he can do is get in amongst it. The violence is graphic, and the consumptive death of a spirit turned demon is horribly intense. But none of that really touched me. I didn’t really get attached or invested in any particular characters or take sides. I just wanted to see how it would all work out.

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Good:

  • Friendly by vaguely creepy forest spirits are my favourite thing
  • Bringing a knife to a gun fight
  • True love’s first kiss tastes like beef jerky

Bad:

  • I’m pretty sure cutting off a topknot doesn’t leave you with such a good looking haircut afterward
  • The Deer God’s face is Way Too Human to be on a deer body. It creeped me out big time
  • Only a boar would think that charging headlong up at seventy degree slope is a good idea
  • What the hell did you THINK was gonna happen when you shot down the god of the whole damn forest?

S1M0NE

From what I have gleaned (during the process of making sure I got the title of the movie right), 3Simone5Furious is about a virtual actress. Hoping for a good AI story.


Unfortunately, Simone wasn’t about an virtual actress gaining awareness, taking over Hollywood, and then taking over the world and subjugating humanity. Only the second one. But I’m happy to hear arguments in favour of the last one also applying.

Simone is about a failed auteur director who can’t stand the power and petty demands of modern actors, and recuts his ‘last chance’ film by replacing the lead actress with a virtual woman, using a (nothing short of revolutionary, given that this was made in 2002) CGI suite bequeathed to him by a dead nerd (and/or genius, I guess?). He then proceeds to build himself a (truly suspension of disbelief breaking) house of cards in the form of this woman’s life and career.

Even setting aside all the truly ridiculous things that happen during the course of this charade (I choose to believe it was deliberately exaggerated in order to make it a parody of celebrityhood, rather than a reflection of reality), I’m very much on the fence as to if I liked Simone or not. It definitely had a few moments that I really enjoyed, such as Viktor trying to explain that ‘he created Simone’, only to have it persistently misunderstood as meaning that he made her career. But I think I was just too annoyed to how willfully stupid literally every single character seemed to be.

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Well, at least Simone didn’t look as fake as Beowulf, right?

Good:

  • Simulation One. Okay, that’s kinda cute.
  • Viktor makes the sort of movies I instinctively dislike.
  • Not even one of these journalists is asking ‘Where is the birth certificate?’. I guess it’s cause she isn’t black.
  • When Viktor forgot to thank himself in the Oscar’s speech, I was convinced it was Simone’s first act as an aware entity. I was disappointed.
  • Situation wasn’t resolved with the much more plausible answer: ‘Hmm, yeah that was old footage in the background, she did that in front of a green screen. Obviously.’

Bad:

  • So it took him eight months to re-edit the film…what did the studio think he was doing all this time? They didn’t sign off any reshoots…
  • ‘Satellite link issues’ yeah sure buddy
  • A ‘hologram’ button.
  • Making last minute changes to something pre-recorded days ago
  • Viktor didn’t once say ‘Find one person who will swear under oath they have had a conversation with Simone face to face.’