Wednesday, May 19, 2010

#14 Psycho (1960)

"Hitchcock is a freaking genius"

In the long list of movies that have had a profound impact on cinema, Psycho ranks among the greatest. So much of this film has become horror and thriller staple. And yet, at the same time, so much of this film is absolutely unique, and singularly great. This is an absolutely stupendous film. Everything is so thoroughly perfect and unique, that even a director copying the film line for line and shot for shot cannot compare to its quality. It is, simply, a perfect thriller.

As before, this film is so chockfull of unexpected twists, that I’m going to leave my synopsis minimal for fear of revealing so of the superb twists in this film. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is an ordinary divorcĂ©e living in Phoenix, AZ. She has an ordinary job at a real estate firm, and has an ordinary relationship with a man who comes down from California to visit her, but this all changes, however, when a particularly wealthy man buys a house with 40,000 dollars cash. Marion is sent off to deposit the money in the bank, but she instead decides to take the money and split. She decides to take the money to her boyfriend, as it’s revealed they plan to get married once the boyfriend’s debts are paid off. All the while, she becomes increasingly paranoid, and seems to be slipping into insanity throughout the trip. One night while she’s driving through California, it becomes so stormy that she’s forced to pull off into a hotel for the night. The one she chooses is the Bates Motel, a run-down motel off the main road, which is completely unoccupied except for the owner, a creepy man named Norman, and his ailing, insane mother. The rest of the movie is about what goes down between Marion and Norman, and its aftermath, neither of which I want to spoil, because they blindside you to such an extent that to give it away would ruin the movie entirely.

The acting in this movie is quite solid. Marion is solid, but the real show-
stealer is Norman, who plays his role absolutely superbly. He has so many great lines, you can just feel your skin crawling when he’s talking. The more amazing part of this film is the camera work. The camera feels like another character unto itself. Among the best scenes in the film are the shower scene, which is so incredible, I am at a loss for words just thinking about it. Another great one is after the shower scene when the film is showing Marion’s body, and panning around the newspaper containing the money, or another scene when the PI attempts to confront Norman’s mother. Hitchcock does such a good job building suspense, every scene is a nailbiter. The climactic end scene is just absolutely intense, and your hair is on end even at the end when everything has been resolved. Additionally, the music is excellent. It’s become such a part of our culture and the stereotypical slasher that you don’t even realize how well it goes to the film, but it does, and as with the rest of the film, builds suspense incredibly well.

So much of this film is so good. It is without a doubt one of the top 5 films I’ve ever seen, and the best suspense film I’ve seen yet. There is so much the film does well, and what I find more incredible is the film does it all without gore, without blood, without violence. None of the characters are hideous or grotesque. This film is a great example of showing just enough to get your imagination going, but leaving enough out to let your imagination run rampant. The suspense building is superb. And every one of the three MAJOR twists are pulled off so flawlessly, and blindside you so completely that your mouth is left agape at it. This film is a must watch. By the end of it, I guarantee you all you will be able to say is, “Hitchcock is a freaking genius.”

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