Cape Fear (1991) Review


Max Cady is released from prison after serving a fourteen year sentence, his lawyer Sam Bowden becomes his target especially when he sees his teenage daughter Danielle.


Cape Fear manages to capture the suspense of a family being stalked and how the fear build up without any actions can really psyche you out. Although the line is crossed in the end by Cady and we get some very creepy scenes to go along with it. The whole time he was in prison was building up to release and being able to track down Bowden. As it turned out Bowden held some information back despite Cady being his client, even though he still got him a reduced sentence for battery rather than rape.

Lori Davis works with Bowden and this is something he has kept from his wife, a female friend would not go down well given his track record. With this Cady seeks an opportunity one night and gets her drunk in a bar, the scene that follows is probably one of the toughest to watch and given that I have seen this film a few times now I have to look away or cover my eyes for the cheek biting part just cannot cope with that. This part really shows how clever Cady is knowing that she works at a law firm and how rape victims were not always believed that Davis would not press charges.

Bowden goes to extreme measures in order to try and protect his family. This is not something that works out very well with Danielle his daughter who is drawn in by Cady and in some very creepy moments he begins to groom her (although I’m not sure if this is more of a recent term of what it actually is?), also something that I never really thought about that deeply on other viewings of the film, I guess the way times and terms change. She actually quite likes the attention, at only 15 years old you have to remember how utterly sick and sadistic some of the moments are. The scene in the school in particular makes you very nervous about what he is going to do, so the fear certainly transfers to the viewers as well.

The haunting music in the opening sequence is enough to get you prepared for the torment that you are about to endure. Shall we use this as the perfect example to remember that Martin Scorsese does a lot more than just gangster films? I think that is something to really highlight. Especially when you then have him directing Robert De Niro who is one of the best film villains in this one for sure. His agent and creepy nature mixed in with some amazing charisma certainly creates a truly terrible character. Nick Nolte is decent in showing his fear and supported by Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis, who is outstanding a times given her tender age. A lovely little bonus is having Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck with roles in the film considering they both starred in the original version.

I find this type of psychological thriller more hard hitting and tougher to watch than some horror films in all honesty. It creates the fear of not being able to do anything about someone stalking and following you, even with restraining orders in place. The first time I watched the film I am pretty sure it gave me nightmares for a few nights! The maid scene gets me every single time ahhhh.

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