Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence and sexual references
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates
Vera Miles as Lila Crane
John Gavin as Sam Loomis
Janet Leigh as Marion Crane
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals $40 000 from her employer’s client and leaves town. She spends a night at the Bates Hotel, run by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a young man who seems to be dominated by his mother. After this encounter however, things change. The film is based on Robert Bloch’s novel of the same name.
Alfred Hitchcock is known as the master of suspense but ended up making the first ever ‘slasher’ movie. Despite it being called the first slasher movie however, it didn’t personally scare me, maybe because it might be dated or because some of its scenes are so well known that it’s not a surprise when it is viewed. Even if this movie doesn’t scare you, it is still worth watching to see one of cinema’s all time classics. It’s one of Hitchcock’s best.
Genre-wise, this film starts off as a thriller and if you were in 1960 you’d probably think that it would be like Hitchcock’s other films (he is the master of suspense after all). However as people who have seen the movie know, it’s not just a thriller. As for what I think the film’s genre is, I consider Psycho to be a mystery thriller. There aren’t that many scary scenes as much as the film has suspenseful scenes. The film’s pacing is slow and builds up the suspense. You can see the story slowly unfold and there is a certain point during it where the movie seems to give the viewer a feel of suspense, without deliberately trying to scare the audience into it. This movie doesn’t have many scares but even when it might not succeed in scaring viewers; it still succeeds at being a well-crafted movie. This film has a very memorable ending that I will not hint at any way. If you don’t know what I’m referring to because you haven’t seen the movie, you need to especially watch it soon before it’s spoiled for you. What I will say is that there are many revolutionary things about this movie, and this ending is one of them.
A standout scene in the movie that was suspenseful was between Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh and they were just talking. Even though I knew how this scene would end (because a lot of the movie was unfortunately spoiled for me, including the ending), I felt tense. Most of that came from Anthony Perkins, who stole every scene he was in. After a few scenes you can tell that his character isn’t exactly an everyday normal person. Every time he was on screen, he is absolutely outstanding and grabs the viewer’s attention. There is no actor that I can think of who could have done a better job than him. The other actors like Janet Leigh were also really good in their roles and really take and play their roles seriously.
This film is very expertly directed. Every camera shot works and is positioned correctly and is pure brilliance. The black and white style also really adds to this movie’s mystery tone. Compare this to Gus Van Sant’s shot-by-shot remake which is in colour, it’s just not as effective and doesn’t leave that much of an impact on viewers. The music by Bernard Hermann always builds a dark mysterious presence in this movie and builds atmosphere and tension.
Psycho today is a classic that definitely should be seen by every film buff. Every element from the acting, the dialogue and the camera shots are done right as many other Alfred Hitchcock movies. The film was definitely ahead of its time but I can’t think of any other relevant time for it to be released. See it as soon as possible.