The reason I’m writing about Psycho in the first place is because I’m trying to book a hotel. While looking through the hotels, I keep imagining the sketchy motor lodges as a Bates Motel. Looking at some of these images, I can only imagine a Victorian-era house overlooking the hotel.
But that’s besides the point. If you’ve never seen Psycho, please rent the movie - in fact, I say buy it. Trust me, it’s a great film. I try to watch it once a year, preferably around Halloween. As I said, I get something new out of the movie with every view.
But first, Spoiler Warning: From here on in, I’m going to be referencing specific plot points, so if you haven’t seen the movie, you might want to stop reading and get yourself a copy. Believe me, it’s great.
I think the reason Psycho works so well is due to the character of Marion Crane. There’s something very human about her. She’s committing a crime, yes, and we don’t exactly know the reasons. Still, it’s hard to criticize her actions - at least I find it difficult to condemn her. I’m sure people feel differently and would gladly disagree. Regardless, there’s something relatable to what she’s doing… I suppose we all want to run away at times.
The first time I watched Psycho I overlooked this characterization, and seeing Marian Crane’s actions a second time packs a punch. Everything she does is suddenly so much sadder. A lot is lost during the first viewing. It kills me when Marian decides to return the stolen money, and gets murdered before ever having the chance. I love the scene between her and Norman Bates, where he asks if she’s ever gone mad (after his famous “We all go a little mad sometimes” speech). Marian responds, “Yes, sometimes just one time can be enough.” It’s such a subtle, beautiful line - there’s so much regret in her tone.
After Marian Crane is murdered in the shower, it feels like there’s no one left in the movie. All our sympathy for Marian is gone, and we’re forced to shift that lingering empathy on Norman Bates. It’s a wonderfully dark tactic on the writer’s part. Nobody wants to like Norman Bates - there’s something creepy about him, it’s obvious. Still, what else can we do? He’s the only one left in the movie - it’s his mother that’s nuts, right?
There is so much to like in Psycho. It’s a film where everything comes together seamlessly. The writing, the acting, the directing, the music - I could write pages on each of these. Everything is done right, and there are very few flaws. One of (likely my only) problem with Psycho involves the scenes without dialogue. The dialogue and acting is so well written and well performed that the scenes without any feel dull in comparison. Norman cleaning up the crime scene, for example, feels like it goes on for hours. I know some may disagree, but I prefer the sharp dialogue.
That’s about all I have to say on Psycho - I can say lots more, but the movie speaks for itself. You owe it to yourself to watch it if you’ve never seen the movie… and if you have? Hell, watch it again - it only gets better.