Red Dragon and 9 other Psychological Thrillers to Watch if You Like Hannibal Lecter Hannibal Lecter appears in some of the best psychological thrillers. For fans of the cannibal, here is some Hannibal adjacent media to watch.
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The Silence Of The Lambs is often regarded as one of the greatest films ever made; perfect in every way, from its direction and cinematography to that haunting script, those terrifying visuals, and the mesmerizing lead performances from Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. The critical reception of the film speaks for itself: it became one of just three films to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It is definitely a great psychological thriller.
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Not counting this iconic movie, here are some other incredible psychological thrillers that are Hannibal-related or complementary.
Before The Silence Of The Lambs, came Red Dragon. In its novel form, penned by Thomas Harris, the Red Dragon story was written before its sequel, but the film series skipped ahead to The Silence Of The Lambs before going back on itself in the early 2000s for the prequel. By this point, it was Hopkins’ third outing as his crazed cannibal self, so he was a bit melodramatic at times, but it’s great to see a pre-Clarice version of the character.
Manhunter (1986) is also an adaptation of Red Dragon, and the first film to enter Lecter’s world.
David Fincher’s obsession with serial killers is abundantly clear throughout pretty much all of his work. His take on the story of the real-life case of the Zodiac Killer is a long, star-studded journey through fictionalized versions of real events.
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The Zodiac had a lot in common with Hannibal, in particular, his arrogant intelligence. Of course, they never caught the Zodiac, but his taunting messages to those investigating the case had a Hannibal-esque playfulness.
Speaking of David Fincher, the Mindhunter TV show is what took his away from the limelight of cinema for a few years recently. The show is built around FBI agents who interview serial killers (many of them based on real-life killers) to see how they think.
There is a huge amount of similarity between this and Clarice Starling’s mission to have Hannibal Lecter help her understand the mind of Buffalo Bill.
The final David Fincher entry onto this list is his 1995 masterpiece Seven. It brought together Morgan Freeman and a young Brad Pitt to form fierce detective duo looking into a killer who operated based on the seven deadly sins.
Their mission to find him and take him down, combined with the occasional moment of incredibly graphic violence and injury detail shares a lot with The Silence Of The Lambs, and the race to find a killer is always one that takes viewers on an intense mental journey.
The main trilogy of Hannibal films is a well-loved series. It is very clear that The Silence Of The Lambs comes out on top as the best of the bunch, but each film has its merits.
In 2007, Peter Webber made Hannibal Rising based on Thomas Harris’ recent novel. The film is set before the events of the main trilogy and attempts to explain Lecter’s development into a killer. Critical response was generally negative, but it’s still an interesting exploration of the character.
The titular character of Dexter Morgan in Dexter toes a line of morality that isn’t worlds away from Hannibal himself. Both of the characters are providing assistance to the police (though Dexter is actually employed as a blood-spatter analyst) while carrying out murders behind the scenes.
Obviously, everyone is pretty well-aware of Hannibal’s killings, but Dexter operates with stealth and (most of the time) reason.
If you’re looking for a gritty tale about cannibals that does away with the thriller aspects and the serial killer focus, then Cannibal Holocaust is a perfect choice.
Made back in 1980, the film achieved practical effects so convincing that a court case saw its director accused of making a snuff film. It is considered to be one of the first found footage films ever made, and held one of the longest bans around the world in cinema history. This one is grittier than the rest, but it certainly does take the viewers” minds on a journey.
3 Hannibal (Film)
The direct sequel to The Silence Of The Lambs was the 2001 film, Hannibal. It brought Anthony Hopkins back on board to play the titular character ten years after his first outing in both physical release and storyline progression.
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We lost Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling unfortunately and Ridley Scott came on board as director. The response was rather mixed and the incredibly graphic moments of violence were = criticized by some, but it is thrilling to see Hopkins” return.
The Hannibal TV series completely rewrites the history of The Silence Of The Lambs by replacing Anthony Hopkins with Mads Mikkelsen and not using any of the storylines of the actual film. Instead, characters from Hannibal, Red Dragon, and Hannibal Rising are combined alongside a mostly original story and occasionally borrowed plot elements into something completely new.
It was critically acclaimed is now frequently considered one of the best TV shows ever made.
1 One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
This one comes somewhat out of leftfield as there is very little to connect the story of The Silence Of The Lambs and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but there is a very distinct reason why fans may overlap.
Alongside The Silence of The Lambs, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the three films to take home the ‘big five’ Academy Awards. Critically, this suggests that they’re both pretty much perfect films that explore the human psyche.