Throughout the horror genre there have been many notorious and infamous villains. The more gruesome the villain, the more memorable. Hence, it is no surprise that the persona of cannibal Hannibal Lecter has become one of the most unforgettable villains —appearing in films such as Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Whether Hannibal wears a mask of his victim’s face or whether he is pontificating about art as he delicately cooks and eats the brains of his dinner guests, Hannibal has remained one of the most cherished serial killers for his ability to disgust his viewers while maintaining interest.
The new TV crime drama Hannibal on NBC puts a twist on this cannibalistic character by portraying him as a cannibal behind closed doors. In Silence of the Lambs as well as Hannibal, Anthony Hopkins stars as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a well sought after murderer and cannibal who helps the FBI solve cases. Ironically in the new drama, Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is not imprisoned and has not committed any murders (as far as the police know). Rather, he is a psychiatrist who assists the police in their investigations of ghastly serial killers while his own criminal behaviors are unsuspected.
For fans of previous Hannibal-based movies, the new take on Dr. Lecter’s characterization will either entice them or turn them away.
Hannibal works alongside Special Agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), who actually is not a Special Agent at all. In the past, Will Graham attempted to gain entrance into the FBI, but did not pass the mental health exam because he was pronounced as too mentally unstable. Will has an unsettling gift though: he seems to know how each serial killer thinks, for he is somehow able to recreate the most gruesome and intricate murders in his mind to the very last detail. His disturbing genius causes the FBI to see Will as a strong asset and they continue to enlist his help on their most extreme cases.
Dr. Lecter is always there to keep an eye on the “Special Agent,” but with such a diabolical nature, it is unclear as to whether the he will be able to resist the temptations of the murder surrounding him. Often the viewer may catch a glimpse of the Doctor’s criminal nature as he often sides with those killers as demonic as him.
In an odd way, Hannibal creates a relationship between Dr. Lecter and viewers through a somewhat disturbing humanization of Hannibal, making the show even more unique and appealing. Hannibal holds the interest for both those who love crime shows and those who are fans of Dr. Lecter’s classic character. Eliciting both shock and intrigue Hannibal brings a gruesome twist to crime television that sounds disgusting but in the end is just plain entertaining.