Review: Cape Fear (1991)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Year: 1991
Score: 3.5/10

Spare a thought for this innocent teddy bear that gets caught up in the mayhem.

Spare a thought for this innocent teddy bear that gets caught up in the mayhem.

One of those remakes that takes the ‘bigger is better’ approach and consequently fails. Scorsese exhibits skill as a filmmaker, as he always does, but it’s all for nought. There are several reasons for this: there’s no proper suspense or sense of reality; things that are supposed to be scary or creepy are instead silly or muddled; the attempt to delve more deeply into the story’s underlying themes (mostly by making the protagonist less heroic and his family dysfunctional) doesn’t pay off; the unusual stylistic flourishes, such as occasionally flashing to negative film images, add precisely nothing; and Robert De Niro ruins every scene he’s in. I was shocked to discover De Niro was nominated for an Oscar for his performance, since I found his laughably bad Southern accent almost as distracting as his unfortunate overacting. On the bright side, it’s nice to see the stars of the 1962 version appear in cameos that play against their original roles, though it does have the effect of bringing that far superior movie to mind, and the comparison does Scorsese no favours. (In my case, watching this version immediately after the original made the comparison even more stark and certainly contributed to my distaste.) My least favourite Scorsese film.

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