Skip to main content

The Vault: Psycho (1960)

Psycho has had a wide variety of influence on films, ranging from Pulp Fiction to The Usual Suspects. It is widely regarded as one of the best horror films of all-time.

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is fed up; she's taking $40,000 from her boss and running away to California to finally wed her financially-strappe beau Sam. It's a nerve-wracking trip and after spending a night in her car she pulls into the quaint Bates Motel. There she meets the timid Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) who, while well-meaning, is a little too curious for his own good.

Marion checks in and unpacks, all the while overhearing an argument taking place between Norman and his over-bearing mother. She lost her sanity Norman tells Marion, but when Marion suggests she stay in an institution Norman's easy-going nature disappears instantaneously. The shock of his outbursts wears off and Norman laments, "we all go a little mad sometimes" and Marion replies that "sometimes, just one time can be enough". What happens afterward is, of course, history.

Psycho was revolutionary in its time for throwing convention to the wind. They killed the lead character not quite thirty minutes into the film and used violence unlike moviegoers had ever seen before. To Hitchcock's credit he never once showed the blade entering flesh and the impact is felt only in the mind. Nowhere else is a human as defenseless than in the shower and Hitchcock plays on that instinctual fear brilliantly. As the water washes the guilt of Marion's theft away her life is taken, and the audience has no idea where to go from here.

Now the twist is something that is overshadowed anymore because of Hollywood's current tendency to add twists to films that, either do not need them, or are just flimsy excuses to trick the audience. Here, the ending solidifies a theme that has played out throughout the film. We can not escape our pasts. Marion, despite her good intentions in planning on returning the money the next day, dies alone in a bath tub, eyes empty and without life. Norman, who we now know is the killer, lost his mind after the death of his father and his relationship with his mother will, seemingly, never be put to rest.

This is film-making at its best and if you haven't seen it, for the love of everything cinematic go out and see it right now!

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Anomalisa

Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.

Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…

Review: Selma

It may surprise many that Martin Luther King Jr. never received the celluloid treatment prior to Selma. Sure he had been mentioned in other historical pieces, but short of documentary footage, King was never given center stage. Quite shocking given the man's legacy and the lingering effect of his efforts still felt today. Several years of production and a director change later, Selma arrives as the film worthy of the man.

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…