30 April 2017



This excellent horror film is the fifth in the Hannibal Lecter franchise and serves as a prequel to RED DRAGON, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL, all superbly scary and well-made cinematic offerings.

It literally documents the rise of cold-blooded psychopath Hannibal Lecter. It tells us about the factors that conspire to make him what he is when he bursts onto our screens in a full-blown burst of liver-and-fava-bean-eating, Chianti-swilling cannibalistic evil and mind-f***ing if you'll excuse a touch of mild profanity.

What it comes down to is this, and it ain't pretty. Hannibal's origins are to be found in the war-torn Lithuania of the Hitler years, where it seems that the terrified locals have as much to fear from their own soldiers as they do from the Germans.

Hannibal's parents are killed in an explosion, leaving the eight-year-old Hannibal as the sole carer of his little sister, Mischa. Not for long, however. Mischa, as unbelievable and as gruesome as it seems, is killed and eaten- yep, eaten- by a small band of six former Lithuanian soldiers, now Nazi collaborators, who are desperate for food. Tsk, tsk. Desperate they may have been, but it's still no excuse, though. I mean, seriously, let them eat cake and all that...

This grotesque act of cannibalism is witnessed by Hannibal in all its sinewy, tendony, crunchy glory. Eeuw. Needless to say, it traumatises him for life. When he's all grown-up (and ridiculously handsome in an intense, broody, cheekboney kind of way), his only aim in life is to hunt down the men who ate his sister and dish out large, creamy helpings of piping-hot vengeance that they'll choke on and boy, do they choke...!

This is basically a grim, bleak revenge movie, albeit a superior, beautifully-shot one. Hannibal tracks down all six men and, when he eventually catches up with them, it's a case of comeuppances all round in some pretty horrible and bloody ways. 

Rhys Ifans does a great job of portraying Vladis Grutas, the sexy-as-hell leader of the little group of cannibals and now a sex-trafficker, who gets a giant M- for Mischa- carved across his chest by a revenge-crazed Hannibal. I've never seen Rhys Ifans play a role this grim before. He's really suited to it, I must say. And so good-looking too.

Hannibal is so consumed with his need for vengeance that he even misses out on the chance for love with his beautiful widowed aunt, the Lady Murasaki, because he just can't call a halt to his self-imposed mission. Mind you, that's a bit... well, a bit incestuous anyway, isn't it, doing it with your late brother's missus...?

And, can I just say, when I was growing up, none of my aunties looked like the drop-dead gorgeous Lady Murasaki...? My aunties all went to Mass and wore cardigans and spectacles and had trouble with their waterworks and their digestion. Feckin' hell.

So, is revenge ever worth it? Are you ever any better off because of it? And when you've achieved it, just what the heck are you supposed to do then? I'm reminded of Inigo Montoya, brilliantly played by Mandy Patinkin, in THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987). 

When he finally manages to slay the man who killed his father after searching for him for donkeys' years, he turns to Cary Elwes and says:

'You know, I have been in the revenge business for so long that, now that it is over, I'm buggered if I know what I'm supposed to do next!' or words to that effect. 

I couldn't have put it better myself.

RIP Jonathan Demme, who directed THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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