23 Apr 2014

Movie Review: Psycho (1960)


Marion Crane and her boyfriend discuss the financial costs (during office lunch hour in a secret hotel room meeting) of getting married and find that they just don't have enough. Crane returns to her real estate office and finds $40,000 of the client's money entrusted to her. On impulse, she hits the road with the money, exchanges her car for a used one, until rain causes her to stop for the night at Bates Motel. Here she meets the young, nervous yet pleasant motel owner, Norman Bates. Bates tells her of his mentally ill mother and is appalled on the suggestion of sending the mother to an institution. Even as they talk, our thief has made up her mind to return the loot. Thus relaxed and assured, Marion Crane decides to take one harmless shower bath...  

Psycho is Alfred Hitchcock at the height of his film making powers. Shot effectively with a modest budget, this horror-suspense thriller stands the test of time for its chilling atmospherics, adroit storytelling and creepy use of black and white. Even for the prolific director, the film was a risk for its convention-deviating storyline, absence of a crowd-pulling star cast, depiction of voyeurism and sexuality. 

Hitchcock’s genius lay in placing dark elements in scenes of daily life, thus making it even more scarier and unforgettable. Bates Motel, a car disappearing into dark water and the final sinister smile are all stuff of cinema legend now. 

I have played this one for a family member just to relish the reaction during the shower scene. It was totally worth it. 

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