Sunday, April 23, 2017

Movie Review: Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock's brilliant 1960s thriller Psycho defined a genre for many years to come. When Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) makes off with a $40,000 of her boss's money to be with her boyfriend Sam Loomis (John Gavin), she finds herself lost on the road with growing paranoia. A chilling soundtrack ratchets up the tension as Marion sells her car and works to cover her tracks despite being followed by a police officer. Caught in a thunderstorm, she is forced to pull off and find lodging at the Bates Motel. She meets Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) the purveyor of the motel. Norman offers to make Marion dinner 

She soon discovers that Norman has an angry mother who reprimands him loudly from the house above the motel for checking in a pretty girl. Marion apologizes for intruding as Norman watches her eat. He continues to watch her even without her knowledge through a peephole. Marion regroups in the motel and takes a shower. The iconic shower scene occurs when Norman's mother comes in and stabs Marion to death. Norman is horrified by his mother's actions but cleans up the dead body and drives the car into a swamp. 

Marion's sister Lila Crane (Vera Miles) goes to Sam, looking for her sister. Also on the search is Detective Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam). He sets off following Marion's trail until he comes to Bates Motel. He asks Norman some questions about Marion. Norman at first denies Marion stayed at the motel but as Det. Arbogast catches him in lie after lie, he becomes uncomfortable and stutters. Arbogast returns to the motel after letting Lila know that he was on Marion's trail. He goes into the creepy the house and gets murdered by Norman's mother.

Lila and Sam decide to figure what happened to Arbogast and their sister. The report to the local sheriff who tells them that Norman's mother is actually dead. Disturbed, they check-in to the Bates Motel and snoop around. Sam distracts Norman while Lila investigates the house looking for his mother. Norman realizes that Sam is up to something and attacks him. Lila finds Mrs. Bates body decomposing down in the fruit cellar. Just as Norman tries to stab Lila, Sam stops him. They analyze Norman and discover his split personality. 

This movie is a classic still inspiring stories today. The film still has a frightening aspect that utilizes the black and white of the filmmaking at the time. The exploration of split personalities is still a common theme in cinema and this is a defining production of just such a scenario. A Hitchcock masterpiece and horror classic, it was fun to revisit this film in anticipation of the finale of Bates Motel, the current iteration of the story. Fans of horror who have not seen this film should definitely seek it out.

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