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3,404 Ratings

Cape Fear

Directed by Martin Scorsese
United States, 1991
Thriller, Crime


After serving a 14-year prison sentence for rape, bibliophile Max Cady is being released and wants revenge for what he believes was a lousy defense from public defender, Sam Bowden.

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Cape Fear Directed by Martin Scorsese

Critics reviews

It’s a joy to watch—an intricately constructed and satisfying genre exercise—and features some of the most exciting performances and moments that the director ever created. Some of these happen in the blink of an eye, like Robert De Niro’s psychotic Max Cady sucking on a cigar and breathing out “You’re gonna learn about suffering” as the camera rapidly tracks backwards from Nick Nolte’s car window.
February 05, 2016
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The ensuing blaze of technique—fast zooms, vivid color dissolves, whip pans, shock sound effects, high diagonal angles, filters, upside-down camera shots, sequences in negative format—gives to Cape Fear a retro, carnivalesque quality that feels more like the Amicus/Hammer horror films Freddie Francis himself once directed (Paranoiac, Torture Garden) than a contemporary American thriller.
October 10, 2014
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What are people saying?

  • chanandre's rating of the film Cape Fear

    [Cinémathèque PT #459: 35 mm] (2007) Wonderful homage to Hitchcock, and one of the very few remakes that rivals with the original.

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film Cape Fear

    Some may find it silly, campy, or slight, but only because they haven't seen as many vintage B-movies as Scorsese. And Scorsese the cinephile understands what those films were about: a sordid mania underneath the respectable American heartland. And so, with hammy acting and blatant retro artifice, he hands in a thriller full of disturbing questions about morality, sex, guilt, and class. And makes it damn fun, too.

  • Christopher M. Jones's rating of the film Cape Fear

    Robert Mitchum's Max Cady was scary because he seemed like he could be a real person. By contrast, De Niro's character might as well have been shooting lasers out of his ass by the time the film's ludicrous climax rolled around. I can't be the only person who thinks that it was Nolte who had to do most of the heavy lifting here.

  • Zachary W's rating of the film Cape Fear

    Occupying roughly the same place in Scorsese's oeuvre that Dragon Tattoo does in Fincher's, Cape Fear transcends its 'for-hire' outward appearance. Not only does Scorsese craft this big budget studio thriller into his darkest film, but he also employs the most formally audacious camerawork to come out of Hollywood in the 1990s (right next to his own Casino). Unfairly neglected, this is the Scorsese that got away.

  • Z's rating of the film Cape Fear

    Scorsese takes a classic genre picture and runs with it, teasing out the subtext of the original piece and making it context. All of the characters are damaged, all have demons that they cannot escape just by leaving home. A very flawed weak man has sinned and no law or society created by man will protect him from his transgression. Cady is righteous in his anger and recrimination. Aggressive and ferocious cinema!

  • Daniel S.'s rating of the film Cape Fear

    Filled with homages to Alfred Hitchcock movies and Christian symbols. It's unfortunately not enough to be a masterpiece. Recommended though.

  • HenriqueA's rating of the film Cape Fear

    It was so tense and disturbing that I had practically no time to see how ridiculous it was. Scorcese can get pretty campy at times, but with de Niro, Nolte, Lange, and Lewis on fire (and probably lot's of cocaine) this chilling piece of pulp cinema is just fucking great. I've never watched the original though.

  • Ethan's rating of the film Cape Fear

    This a film that requires more than one viewing to really appreciate it. At first view you almost hate it but the more you think about it and watch it you realize how great this film really is. Scorsese has the ability to make unlikable characters earn your sympathy. De Niro is brilliant as usual in this film, even if the supporting cast lags at times, but nonetheless Scorsese keeps it all together.

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