The Silence of the Lambs (1991) | 4K Blu-ray Review


Another week and another classic horror film 4K release from Kino Lorber. This time it’s a stunner for 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs. The best looking transfer to date has been the one from The Criterion Collection’s Blu-ray release in 2018. Let’s dive into Kino’s latest entry to see if they have upped the game enough to become the new reference version of this chilling thriller.

UPDATE (11/11/2021): At the time of the original review, I did not have access to my (unfortunately damaged) Criterion Blu-ray for side by side comparisons. I have since re-acquired it and have added new side-by-sides and updated the recommendation regarding buying/upgrading.


If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

The Silence of the Lambs, 4K Blu-ray cover art

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-100)
Blu-ray (BD-50)
Released By:Kino Lorber
Release Date:October 19th, 2021
Video Format / Codec:4K: H.265 (HEVC)
BR: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Resolution:4K: 
Native 4K, 2160/24p 
(3280 x 2160 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)

BR: 
Full HD, 1080/24p 
(1920 x 1080 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)
Digital Intermediate (DI):4K (from 35mm negatives)
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):Dolby Vision (FEL), HDR10
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1
Audio Format(s):English (4K):
DTS-HD MA 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
DTS-HD MA 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Subtitles:English
Packaging:Dual disc snap case w/ slipcover*

*Slipcover may only be available on initial pressing
Region Coding:4K: Region-free
BR: Region A (locked)

Video Review:

In an impressive video presentation, Kino Lorber made use of an existing 4K scan of the film that was taken by MGM, then proceeded to color grade it in HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The amount of detail this transfer pulled out is stunning, with clothing details, skin, practical effects and environments alike all seeing a significant boost, especially compared to the older MGM release in my collection. Close-up shots of characters’ faces are the most strikingly detailed with skin imperfections and creases looking sharp and stubble all looking as if you could reach out and touch it.

Film grain is present throughout the film with certain scenes and elements seeing a bit heavier levels here and there, but overall it looks very well-resolved, textured and organic. Those bothered by grain will definitely notice it, but if you are not, you will not be distracted.

On the color front, Kino did a good job of a natural color palette when introducing the HDR color grade, although the color grade may be a bit of a personal preference. The benefit here is in the subtleties as the film itself is not intended to be vibrant. Primary and secondary colors all get a boost in the way of smoother and slightly richer tones without popping off the screen unnaturally. On the black levels and highlights, the HDR does a great job of letting the blacks dig down deep, and the highlights approach white without losing detail. Specular highlights are not abundant, but when they do appear they definitely pop more in the image as one would expect.

While not currently on my shelf, I have viewed the Criterion Collection version recently, which is a detailed masterpiece as well. To me this 4K transfer looks superior to that release of the film only on a couple of scenes, and not by much (which is saying a lot of the Criterion as it’s only in 1080p).

While we are on the topic of Blu-rays, the one in this set is from the same 4K transfer and looks excellent as well. While it struggles a bit more with color and black levels here and there, it retains a lot of the great qualities of the superior 4K disc.

Video Score (4K): 4.8 / 5

Video Score (BR): 4.5 / 5


Kino Lorber 4K vs MGM BR:


Kino Lorber 4K vs Criterion BR:

Audio Review:

Kino provided us with both the 5.1 surround mix and the original 2.0 stereo mix. Much like in my previous review of Kino Lorber’s 4K release of Misery, my preference once again leans towards the 2.0 stereo mix. It sounds more natural and appropriate for the film. Dialog and activity is clear and focused on the action on screen, while still presenting an appropriately wide front stage.

Both mixes are not bass-heavy with the low end in the score really getting the most support. It’s appropriate and balanced but will not make your subs break a sweat.

The 5.1 mix, which sounds to be the same as the one from the 12-yr old MGM Blu-ray release, does have a slightly wider soundstage than its stereo counterpart, but the introduction of the surrounds to support atmosphere didn’t feel at home within the mix to the same level. Now, if you prefer a surround experience, it’s certainly not a bad track, but between the two the stereo mix was the winner for me. 

Audio Score (4K/BR): 4.2 / 5

Special Features and Packaging:

Kino Lorber gathered together a strong selection of special features from past Blu-ray and DVD releases. It’s a mostly complete list, with the exception of the Criterion exclusive features found on their release. Everything onboard is enjoyable, and well presented. Most of the features are found on the Blu-ray however they did duplicate over the audio commentary track onto the 4K disc. Unfortunately we did not get anything new, but this is pretty typical of Kino’s recent 4K releases. They are licensing the extras, but not spending the extra to make anything new.

Packaging is appropriate, with the theatrical artwork adorning the slipcover and case. On the inside we get the standard black and gray “KL” across the face and white writing on the surface. Similar to the recent Misery release, it’s decent, but not anything to show off.

Features Score: 3.8 / 5

Buy/Upgrade-worthiness:

If you don’t own it, or you only own the MGM release, this is definitely one to consider to pick up. If you own the Criterion release, this answer becomes a bit more challenging with the asking price for this release in the lower $20s and the Criterion being similar or cheaper when on sale. The picture detail and black levels on this release are superior in a few scenes, but overall the Criterion looks excellent across the board, so double dipping to add this Kino release would be a hard ask and I might even recommend it to some that don’t own either that they grab the Criterion instead just because of how good that release is and the extra exclusive features.


Buy/Upgrade Recommendation: Possibly…

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Summary and Overall Scores:

This is the second in a row from Kino Lorber that is getting high praise from this reviewer for their visual presentation of a horror classic. They took an already excellent transfer and improved it even further with a natural, and appropriate color grade, paired it with a capable audio track, collected a bunch of great features and put it together in a good looking package. Overall I was pleased with what they provided. Could they have gone further? On the picture front, probably not by much. And I would expect only in a limited collector’s release to get more than we did on the supplementary material.

Experience Score**: 4.5 / 5  (Excellent)

** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.

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