Tuesday, 2 September 2014
September 2014 Blindspot Challenge: Psycho
I have a confession to make. Up until now, despite being a self-proclaimed horror fan, I had never gotten around to seeing Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Back during my failed stint at college I developed a few questionable spending habits, and when a guy showed up to sell a bunch of low-priced DVDs I could hardly resist buying a whole pile of them. One of those was a copy of Psycho that I had put off watching for some time. Naturally when I decided to do the Blindspot Challenge it seemed a perfect option, and I eventually decided to save this one (along with Alfred Hitchcock's other famous horror film The Birds) for the fall in keeping with the spirit of Halloween.
Janet Leigh plays the role of Marion Crane, a secretary who is trusted with depositing a large sum of money but ends up deciding to steal it instead. She gets out of town, and everything seems to be going okay. She almost gets caught by a police officer but manages to barely evade him. Finally, she ends up at the Bates Motel, run by a young man named Norman who seems nice enough but has something not quite right going on with his mother. Crane settles in and... well, if you don't already know the famous twist, I won't give it away. Let's just say that there's a few... disturbing occurrences that follow.
It is an interesting narrative, although admittedly I do feel it may have had greater impact had I gone in without knowing about what happens halfway through the film. Alfred Hitchcock was very determined to make sure that nobody found out. Supposedly he forced theaters to refuse late admissions to the movie and even went out of his way to buy as many copies of the original book as he could find so that people couldn't read it and find out the twist. Sadly, it's become a pretty well-known turn of events since then, and if you somehow don't already know what I'm talking about I suggest you watch the film right away before someone spoils it for you.
There are a few good scares in this film to be sure. The violin screeching that accompanies the murder scenes alone can make you jump (it turns out it's actually used in several other scenes besides... the famous one). Anthony Perkins is fascinating in the role of Norman Bates, constantly alternating between seeming an ordinary and at times even likable guy and displaying signs of mental instability.
Even if you can see the murder scenes coming a mile away, the violin screeching can take you by surprise, and it is worth it for the disturbing reveal at the very end where we see just what the deal is with Bates' mother. Matters are also helped by how little we see of her, allowing for the story to mess with your expectations. There are clues toward the truth but also several that will throw you off though they make sense in the end.
Psycho is a very interesting film. I don't know if I would go as far as to rank as one of my all-time favorite horror films, but it is a well-done movie with some good scares and a compelling narrative. If you want a good horror film it is worth your time. Just a word of advice, if you really need to take a shower I would recommend you try and do so before you watch this movie and not after.