8. “Cape Fear” (1991)
Going full genre never seems to gain respect. However, Scorsese’s full tilt horror film is a perfectly pulpy work of art. Max Cady (Robert De Niro) is a newly released convict who stalks the lawyer who unsuccessfully defended him, Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), and his family. His wife, Leigh (Jessica Lange), is frightened by Cady’s more persistent interest. His teenage daughter, Danielle (Juliette Lewis), however, has a palatable curiosity in Cady. Robert De Niro is great playing up the seedy, yet charming convict. He’s always frightening, but also entertaining and enticing. The most complex performance, however, comes from Lewis. Her Danielle has so many more interesting urges and conflicting emotions regarding Cady that shade the film. For what some might write off as a genre film, I consider a messy, yet ambitious exploration in how we are attracted to the things that repulse us the most.