(Review originally written at 18 July 2007)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The 1962 movie version of "Cape Fear" was already a great and classic one. It was a movie that set the standards for most later thrillers and featured Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum still in their prime. How was a remake ever going to surpass the original? Martin Scorsese really pulled this off! He makes "Cape Fear" an haunting atmospheric thriller that still is one of THE best in its genre.

"Cape Fear" is a real psychological thriller. It doesn't rely on scares or anything like that but more on its atmosphere. It's a very insecure- and therefor also really an unpleasant atmosphere, since you just don't know what is going to happen next and what the Cady character actually tries to achieve. It's a real unpredictable character, that is capable of anything. You're just waiting for him to explode!

It also definitely helps the movie that evil Max Cady character is being played by Robert De Niro. He has played some tough gangsters in his career but none of them can match up to Max Cady. It's a real monster, who sends shivers down your spine. The way he makes the Bowden's life miserable is clever, totally evil and actually scary. On top of that it all also feels very realistic. Nothing feels overdone and it feels like this also really could happen in the real world.

Too bad that in the end the movie turns into a sort of 'monster'-movie, with the villain reemerging time after time and when he can't seem to feel any pain. It's perhaps the only mistake the movie makes and the only lesser part of the movie, although the ending still remains an exciting and tense one. Something the 1962 version lacked.

The movie is also very moody with a great visual style. Scorsese uses a lot of (old) classy tricks, that provide the movie with a great style and atmosphere. The atmospheric cinematography is from horror expert Freddie Francis, who knows how to create a chilling, haunted mood.

It was a great movie that they decided to re-use the musical score from the original, by genre-expert Bernard Herrmann. But then again, why should you replace a perfect score? It suits the movie perfectly and truly enhances the atmosphere.

Not only De Niro is memorable in his role, basically every character in this movie gives a fantastic performances. The movie features some of the best ensemble acting you'll ever see in a movie. Every actor gives one of the best performances out of their careers. Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Joe Don Baker, all are absolutely great and they're even better together. It shows what a great actor-director Scorsese also is. He brings out the best of every actor. I mean for instance, in which other movie did Juliette Lewis ever give an Oscar worthy performance? Also a nice touch that a couple of actors from the original version make a cameo appearance in this movie and they are not the least; Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck and also Martin Balsam. Robert Mitchum's part was actually quite big and he shows that he still had it in him. Peck's cameo is mostly fun as Cady's lawyer. Obviously he got that particular role for playing in "To Kill a Mockingbird". It was great to see him in a courtroom sequence again.

Perhaps Scorsese's most commercial movies but also definitely one among his best. "Cape Fear" is an haunting and memorable movie and should should be a reminder movie-makers of this present day how to make a good genre movie. This movie is definitely still among the best in its genre and is filled with a couple of classic sequences and one classic performance of De Niro. An absolute must-see!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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