As someone who watches a scarily large amount of movies, I have a lot of strange movie blind spots. Movies that people are astounded I haven’t seen yet. The most shining example is The Godfather, which I just watched for the first time maybe 2 months ago (have you guys seen that one? Turns out its pretty good). I hadn’t even realized until recently how large my Hitchcock blind spot is. I’ve only seen maybe three of his movies total, and one of them was very recently. So the time felt right to finally jump into Psycho.
Even more depressing? I’ve seen the 1998 shot for shot remake of Psycho, but not the original movie. I may never forgive myself for that one…
Psycho is a hard movie to review because honestly, what the hell do I even say about it? It’s such an iconic film from the score to the characters to the plot and even to the individual moments that even if you haven’t seen it, you likely know a whole lot about it. It actually reminded me a lot of my experience watching The Godfather in that even though I hadn’t seen the actual movie, every single scene is so entrenched in pop culture that it felt like I’d seen it before. I guess I can do a quick plot summary? That will take up some room I suppose.
Janet Leigh is Marion Crane, a realtor who has decided to run away with $40,000 of her client’s money that she is actually supposed to be using to buy a house for his daughter. After she has fled town, she stops into the Bates Motel where she meets Norman Bates, a polite but off-putting guy who runs the motel with his mother, who stays in their creepy big house nearby and is soon heard berating Norman. Then Marion decides it’s time to hit the shower and then everything goes completely fine and she leaves the shower refreshed and cleansed with absolutely no unpleasantness occurring whatsoever. Norman turns out to be a completely normal guy and he and Marion become besties, hanging out at the motel and dealing with all the wacky guests who come to stay there. Or maybe not. Who’s to say?!
Whatever, come on you all know what this movie is about and what happens. Though let me just say that even knowing all the twists and big moments (I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to watch this movie and not know any of that stuff was coming), the movie itself is still fantastic. I expected my knowledge of the movie to take away from the viewing experience but it really didn’t. At some points it even heightened the tension since I knew something specific was coming, but I wasn’t entirely sure when it was going to happen.
This is especially true in regards to the first half of the movie, before the main twist takes place. Going in, I figured this chunk would be kind of dull since it’s all meant to be one giant piece of misdirection and I knew what the reveal was going to eventually be. Turns out, that’s not the case at all. It almost makes this entire portion more tragic because you know it’s all for naught. I also went into that strange mentality where even though you know what’s going to happen is inevitable, you start to believe that maybe if you wish hard enough, the characters will do something different. You ever have that before? You’re watching something you’ve seen before, you know what’s coming but you’re not happy about it, so you think that maybe, just maybe, if you reallllllly want it enough, the characters will suddenly decide “hey maybe let’s do the exact opposite thing we were about to” and then everything will turn out just fine. No? Just me? Whatever, one day it’s going to work and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn is going to have the happiest ending ever!
As with the plot, I don’t think I need to sit here and tell you that all of the actors are fantastic in this, with of course Anthony Perkins being the highlight as Norman. Even though you know exactly what this guy is up to, you kind of still like him. He’s a little awkward sure, but he comes off as genuinely nice and charming. If it wasn’t for the whole creepy Mom/murder thing, dude could be the lead character in a romantic comedy. It’s such a unique character and Perkins plays him perfectly.
You know what, I’m gonna call this review here. If you haven’t seen Psycho, watch Psycho. Even if you know just about everything there is to know about it, you should still check it out. It’s a fantastic movie with great writing, fantastic performances and all sorts of other good things that I can throw adjectives in front of. It definitely makes the remake seem a lot more pointless, and its existence was already a complete mystery to me to begin with.