Cape Fear

Year: 1991
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Joe Don Baker, Illeana Douglas
You don't often hear this one mentioned among the pantheon of Scorsese's best, but to me it marks the high point of one of cinema's most famous actor/director teams.

De Niro is the scariest we've ever seen him, in fact one of the most chilling movie criminals/villains/psychos ever as rapist Max Cady. Scorsese and De Niro both got to play with much more relaxed attitudes to violence in the movies to amp up the terror in a way Mitchum in the original never could, restricted more or less to a Cagney-like 'you dirty rat' villain.

De Niro, however, brings an extraordinary level of personality to Cady, in his dress sense, his speech and his brooding menace. You'll never cringe so tightly and try to yell at the unsuspecting girl to get out of there as you will when he's seducing Illeana Douglas. Fair credit must go both to Scorsese for the camerawork that puts us right in Cady's face and the music, almost an old, epic horror movie swooning score that seems half satirical.

Cady has been released from prison, and he wants revenge against his former attorney Bowden (Nolte), who was supposed to be defending him but buried evidence in order to put him away, rightly believing him to be a monster.

The revenge will presumably be taken against Bowden's wife (Lange) and teenaged daughter (Lewis), and Cady proceeds to stalk the family, insinuating himself into the daughter's life on the side and effectively dispatching every obstacle they try to put in his way, including the private detective (Baker) and the notorious 'hospital job'.

It all culminates on a remote houseboat during a storm, and it's there that a lesser director would drop the ball and fail to keep the tension buoyant in the face of an action-movie finish, but in Scorsese's hands, the fear never lets up.

You'll never be so scared to hear someone say 'Come, out come out wherever you are' again.

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