By Krissi Dukes, 16, El Camino Real HS
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Where else can you see people hacked at, gutted and eaten but still feel for the killer? Nowhere else, but in Hannibal, the sequel to decade-old psychological thriller Silence of the Lambs.

I caught Silence of the Lambs for the first time on TV months ago. I’d heard about the movie forever and was curious about all the hype that surrounded it. So when advertisements for Hannibal came out way back in September, I couldn’t wait to see it.

A day after Hannibal was released into theaters everywhere, I enthusiastically bought an overpriced ticket to fulfill my need for the sick and macabre. A little voice in my head told me not to get too excited. Sequels normally suck.

The action starts right in

But my cynical little self was not disappointed. Within the first 20 minutes, FBI Agent Clarice Starling shoots someone dead in a daredevil situation and just barely misses killing a baby. The shooting lands on the front page of the Washington Post and puts her FBI career into question. So she’s given other tasks to do, while the FBI decides if she’s worthy enough to remain an agent.

Her assignment? To track one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted—none other than Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Naturally.

And where’s he? Off in Italy, surrounded by fine arts, fine wines and enjoying a classic life, like something out of a Leonardo da Vinci painting. Apparently he’s resisting his cravings for human flesh and is living a clean life.

That is until Hannibal discovers there’s a huge reward for his capture and someone is following him. The greedy person’s body is later seen swinging from a balcony, an apparent hanging. But the audience knows it’s no suicide. I couldn’t bear to watch that part and covered my eyes. Well, I peeked and saw the person’s stomach sliced open. Guts shower the ground below.

And with that, the chase is on.

Hannibal takes off for the U.S. to find Clarice, while she’s trying to find him for the sake of justice.
The plot thickens with gazillionaire Mason Verger, Hannibal’s only living victim, who also tracks the elusive cannibal. The paralyzed pedophile seeks revenge against Hannibal and will stop at nothing. His face, which was hacked up with a razor blade years ago, looks like a chewed up hunk of meat that was spit out and stomped on with a sharp pair of ice skates. He wants to avenge this mutilation and prepares a way to torture Hannibal. What makes it worse, the disfigured Picasso-faced victim plans to watch Hannibal’s mutilation. A hired posse kidnaps Hannibal and brings him to the gazillionaire’s estate, which happens to be in the middle of nowhere. It looks like the serial killer finally met his match.

The plot twists

And then, destiny takes over.

As if she’s telepathic, Clarice finds the estate and saves Hannibal, but ooh—not before another twist of fate happens. Ironically, the serial killer ends up saving the FBI agent and carries her to safety, like a bride across the threshold. But Hannibal doesn’t just walk away from his near-death experience. No, not without leaving his gory mark. But I’m going to tell you what happens then, because I don’t want to blow the whole plot.

Apparently there’s a close-up of the bloody mess that I didn’t tell you about. The audience gasped in horror. Knowing it would look repulsive, I decided to cover my eyes. This time, I didn’t peek.

Still, I couldn’t help but think about how attractive the prospect of friendship with Hannibal seems. In Silence of the Lambs, I remember Hannibal as the twisted and eerily intelligent man behind glass, bars and an occasional mask. In the movie Hannibal, the serial killer is much more personable. He carefully selects gifts for Clarice. He drinks expensive wine, exchanges in cultured small talk, enjoys the opera and prepares exquisite meals all while sporting crease-free, tailored Italian suits.

So he eats a few people. Well, about 20. Later it’s explained that Hannibal kills people whom he considers nuisances to the world, as if performing a public service. Really, it’s all in good taste (bad pun completely intended).

I had been nervous that the movie would spoil my sleep, but I walked out of the theater thinking the movie was rather romantic. Roses and chocolates couldn’t beat Hannibal’s demonstrations of love for Clarice. He sends her meaningful letters, nurses her back to health, and gives her a myriad of thoughtful gifts including a posh, black dress with Gucci heels to match. Then he cooks a luxurious dinner for two, which features her boss’s brains as the main course. Now that’s love.

By now I’m sure you think I’m in dire need of therapy. But I’d like to think that covering my eyes during the really gruesome scenes made me less offended by Hannibal. From what I saw, he’s not such a bad guy. At least, I’d like to think that.