What and how its spoken are the key to sending shivers down the spine. And these five non-horror characters left an indelible mark on moviegoers.
Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton (The Shawshank Redemption)
Calm, whispered threats are frightening enough, but there is something inherently terrifying about someone using your own words against you when making said quiet declarations. It communicates very clearly that not only were they were listening, but what you said stuck with them and they want you to know that particular blade cut, but they can cut deeper.
Gettin’ my drift…?
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Elijah Wood as Kevin (Sin City)
Now, it’s not lost on me that I just got done talking about the importance of menacing dialogue, but Wood’s portrayal of Kevin is a subtle in that it embraces and thrives through silence rather than being impaired by it. It’s not about the killing and ninja-like nimbleness, but rather the stoicism of his actions. It’s not indifference either , because that would imply Wood’s Kevin lacks investment one way or the other. No, it’s placid. The peacefulness and serenity Wood unleashes is simply unnerving.
Case in point, even as Kevin is being devoured alive, his eyes slowly shift down to watch it happen and his quiet expression isn’t one of horror or defeat, but rather delight.
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Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vanger (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Skarsgard is always money, and the first time I saw Dragon Tattoo (which is on par with Silence of the Lambs in my humble estimation), I knew Captain Tupolev was the culprit. Why? It was not unlike seeing Bruce Davison’s name flash across the credits at the beginning of a Law & Order episode. They didn’t get Davison to simply play a bit role, it’s him. He’s the guy who did it.
However, Skarsgard’s reveal didn’t disappoint. Martin calmly (and clearly) savored every moment of his work, and delivered dialogue that offered a blue print of a horrifying mind as he shared that the fear of pain was trumped by the fear of offending — and “they always come willingly.”
And we’re not allowed to forget “You are and I aren’t so different. We both have urges. Mine simply requires more towels.”
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Kevin Spacey as John Doe (Se7en)
Upon receiving the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain in 1996, Spacey thanked Andrew Kevin Walker “for the coolest dialogue I’ve ever said.”
Coolest. In the same vicinity as chilling.
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Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men)
For as much as John Carpenter wanted to personify evil with Michael Myers, one would be hard pressed to offer a film character who demonstrated a greater embodiment of that term than Bardem’s Chigurh.
Fate as coin toss and eclectic weaponry utilized by a man without a sense of humor fueled what can only be described as efficient and horrifying brutality.
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Did we overlook someone? Call it. Friend-O.