You’ll fear him from the bottom of your heart…
There is good dialogue to be had when a cannibal psychiatrist and a cop meet with both something to win from sharing extended verbal exchanges. The cop can save a life and, in return, the incarcerated serial killer hopes to negotiate his liberty. The performances are confident, calculated and played for maximum tension. This movie perfectly marries thriller and horror, with little room for humor.
While it is technically a slow burn, it doesn't actually feel “slow” because there are two main threats. A large portion of the film happens between the investigator and the cannibal separated by a transparent wall. It sets the tone for deeply felt dialogue. When suspense turns into horror, the gore-goer can expect creative splatter. Nothing here is cheap, but nothing is overdone either.
The writing is smart and stacks many layers on an otherwise simple plot. The true antagonist is the reason behind all its theatrical setup. The second killer, not Hannibal, is kidnapping and skinning victims. Hannibal Lecter is depicted as a genius who can solve riddles and crimes by deduction, and he is the heart of the movie. As a discrete sequel to 1986’s Manhunter, this is a big improvement.