1991. Directed by Martin Scorsese
Fresh off the success of Goodfellas, Scorsese chose to remake the 1962 classic Cape Fear. The final product is a chilling game of cat and mouse with some of the most iconic and terrifying scenes of 90's cinema.
Robert DeNiro delivers a tour de force performance as Max Cady, a man sent prison for a violent crime. He blames his attorney for his imprisonment and sets in motion a devious plan for revenge when he is released.
Nick Nolte is steady as the sleazy, morally righteous Bowden who chose not to give Cady a proper defense due to the depravity of his crimes. His own life is on the verge of destruction in the wake of an alluded affair.
The powerhouse Jessica Lange serves as the gravity of the film. A mother trying to hold her family together and ultimately willing to sacrifice everything to keep her daughter safe. It's her matter of fact portrayal that allows anyone to relate to the terror and rise above questions of guilt and attrition.
DeNiro is the embodiment of rage, a man who is vendetta come to life. Opposite this malevolent furnace is Juliette Lewis, who plays Nolte's vulnerable daughter. Lewis' command of awkward teenage emotion is so real, that it inspires dread for anyone who's ever been a parent facing the challenges of their child's sexual awakening. Both would be nominated for Oscars for their performances.
Elmer Bernstein's harrowing score is not to be overlooked. It reminds the audience that nothing is what is seems and that ultimately, there is no sanctuary.
Freddie Francis' camera captures not only the beauty of the South, but also manages to frame each character's emotions in a startling, in your face presentation and it only enhances the film's propulsion towards the inevitable showdown.
Filled with biblical allegories and challenging the notions of right and wrong and the justice system, Scorsese's motives for choosing this film are clear. Every single character is torn asunder by their choices and it's the aftermath, the cost, that is of interest here.
Who sows what they've reaped is in question until the last second of the films' white-knuckled conclusion. The viewer is helpless, a now complicit party in this Southern Gothic fable, and the experience is a psychological vice grip that never fully relents, even when you've left the darkness of the theater behind.