Archive for March, 2011

The People v. Silence of the Lambs

Chief Justice of Horror delivered the opinion for the Court.

Certiorari has been granted in this case in order to clarify this Court’s position regarding this and similar films.  This case presents two questions:

  1. Is the atmosphere of a film and  audience’s experience of fear or tension sufficient to classify a movie as a horror film?
  2. Can a horror film be centered on a police investigation of a human malevolent force?
We hold that a Horror Film is not dubbed so based simply on the atmosphere and fear that the audience perceives.  Further, this Court holds that a movie based on a  police investigation of entirely human subjects is likely not a Horror Film.  The ultimate conclusion of the Court in this matter is that Silence of the Lambs does not meet the constitutional definition of a Horror Film and shall not be considered so for future matters.
It is the goal of a Horror Film to create apprehension and fear in the audience; necessarily the atmosphere of the movie plays a large part in creating that tension.  Silence of the Lambs undoubtedly produces fear in the audience through sublime use of atmosphere, a well written script, and magnificent direction and acting, however, this is not enough to classify Silence of the Lambs as a Horror Film.  Merely achieving the goals of a Horror Film is not sufficient for classification as such, there are content requirements that must be met.  In the present case the Defendant fails to meet the necessary content requirements, as will be discussed below, and thus may not be classified as HF merely because the audience is frightened.  Innumerable films create tension and even fear in an audience without anyone suggesting that they are HF.  The Defendant is no different, save the fact that there is an interesting and potentially terrifying character: Hannibal Lecter.
 A malevolent force is a  necessary component of a HF.  In the present case the malevolent force can either be Buffalo Bill or Hannibal Lecter.  It is not essential in this instance to determine one or the other as the central malevolent force. The malevolent force must threaten the life of the main character(s) and the movie must revolve around the characters’ fear and struggle for survival.  It cannot be reasonably argued that Clarice is not the main character of the film.  Clarice works for the FBI and is, thus, clearly not a civilian.  Neither Buffalo Bill nor Hannibal Lecter seeks her out to attack her and threaten her life.  Rather, Clarice seeks out both characters in order to do her job and protect the public.  She might be apprehensive, but she works in a profession that breeds that apprehension.  It cannot be suggested that any movie or television program where a police officer is scared about an upcoming confrontation with a criminal is part of the Horror Genre, and it cannot be assumed here.  Police officers seek out dangerous characters, and as such it is usually the case that when a police officer is the main character in the film that it is not a HF.  There is a parity of power between hunter and hunted when law enforcement is involved.  So long as there is not a significant alteration of the typical police officer role the character is not viable as the center of a horror film.
Silence of the Lambs does not meet the requisite criteria for a HF because the story does not revolve around a main character’s struggle for survival against a malevolent force that sought them out.  This film will not be considered a Horror Film and the case is remanded to the local cinema court for consideration as a Thriller.
Dissenting Opinions will be detailed in the comments section.

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