“Psycho” is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s well known slasher thrillers as he was known for mastering the creation of suspense in his work; so people in 1960 were interested in finding out how well his new peice would be…

Which I think at that time the audience would have been shocked by what he had created, but for me, as the audience today , I view this piece of his work quite differently.

The cast-

  • Anthony Perkins as “Norman Bates”
  • Janet Leigh as “Marion Crane”
  • John Gavin as “Sam Loomis”
  • Vera Miles as “Lila Crane”

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The plot of the film starts with the character Marion Crane talking with her fiancee Sam Loomis about how they are in debt and can’t get married due to this. As she returns to work there’s a large sum of $40,000 at her workplace, in which she decides to steal to give to Sam to pay off his debts. But as he is in California, she has to drive all the way there; so she begins to pack her bags for a roadtrip.

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She stops at the side of the road to find herself falling asleep and she is awaken by a police officer telling her off, but suspiciously lets her carry on driving. Marion decides to stop off at “Bates motel” because of the heavy rainstorm and not wanting to be encountered by another police officer. So when she meets Norman Bates, the property owner, he invites her to dinner in the house, just opposite the motel. But she overhears him and his mother arguing about letting a woman inside the house; instead they eat in the motel. During their dinner they talk and Norman reveals how his mother is mentally ill, not letting him have a life of his own.

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Later, Marion returns to her room and takes a shower, not knowing that Norman is spying on her through a hole in the wall. Then suddenly a dark figure that looks like the mother comes into the bathroom and stabs Marion to death.  Soon after, Norman appears and cleans up the blood/murder, taking Marion’s dead body, and her possesions including the money into the trunk of her car, driving it into the swamp near the motel.

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The film  then goes onto explaining how Marion’s sister tries to find out about her sister’s death, hiring a private investigator called Arbogast, who goes to the Bates Motel. He speaks with Norman who acts suspiciously, and finds out that Marion had spoken with Norman’s mother; he wants to speak to her but Norman refuses. He calls Lila (Marion’s sister) and Sam, to tell them the information he has found out, then goes up into the house to find Norman’s mother in her bedroom, she suddenly attacks and murders him. When Lila and Sam don’t hear from Arbogast,they contact the local sheriff who informs them that Mrs Bates had killed herslef ten years ago. Shocked by this revelation, they got the Bates Motel to find out more, Sam distracts Norman whilst Lila goes into the basement of the house; she comes accross the dead corpse of Mrs Bates.

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Meanwhile, Norman realises what Sam is after and punches him, making him unconscious, then he appears in the basement dressed in his mother’s clothes ready to kill Lila with a knife, but before he can, Sam enters and knocks Norman over. The film ends with a psychiatrist explaing the “mother” personality where Norman had killed his mother and her boyfriend when he was angry at the fact that she was moving on after his dad had passed away. Therefore, he recreated his mother by having an alternative personality, pretending to be her by dressing up and her voice was controlling his mind.

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What I like most about this film by Alfred Hitchock is the ending, this is because I didn’t expect to see Norman dressed up as his mother; meaning that he was the one who killed Marion, not his mother who we had believed. Therefore, “Psycho” fits into the genre of thriller as the convention containing a massive plot twist, makes the audience uneasy as we were made to belive one thing, when something extraordinary happens instead.

So, the ending scene when the psychiartisist is explaining Norman’s mental instability, we almost recollect what had happened even though there wasn’t any flashbacks to explain this, we picture what had happend in our heads. For instance the images above demonstrate how we see a dark/shadow figure with a knife, hiding the identity of the person, it’s not until later we find out this person is dressed up; later revealed as Norman pretending to be his psycho mother.  Therefore, Alfred Hitchcock takes the convention of using shadows to the next level in his thriller film because we could not predict who this person is; we simply think it’s Mrs Bates.

However,we can suspect half way through the film that the character Norman is suspicious of something by the way he acts when talking to Marion; he appears to have something wrong with him,possibly a mental issue, but we don’t know yet…

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I do like how well Anthony Perkins acts in the film, as he has something mysterious about him… and the quotes he says are important as they show the character Norman’screepy side.

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On the other hand, I dislike the beginning of the film because for me it seems to drag on for a while until the real climax of the film begins. Although the life of Marion and Sam is explored, (to set upthe story of them being in debt), I feel that this could have been cut a little shorter,so that there’s more tension being built when Norman kills Marion.

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As well as, I’m debating whether I like the black and white aspect of the film, or if I would prefer the film to have been made in colour. For the reason that it would mean the iconic shower scene where Marion is killed would have been presented better, as it would be more graphic with her blood on the knife and covering the floor.

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But havingthe film in black and white makes it seem more eerie as the use of low key lighting adds extra emphasis on the themes of good and bad; showing a contrast of colours that make shadows for the characters, and highlighting the settings in the film.

Which the frequent use of long shots of Norman’s house exemplify how the audience don’t know what’s actually inside the house; only being revealed later as Mrs Bates’ dead body, when the character Lila goes into explore it. So it builds tension as we are desperate to find out what’s inside the house; we only see Norman enter and exit it, no-one else does; creating suspicion.

Overall,the rating I would give Alfred Hitchcok’s slasher thriller film would be…

4-out-of-5-stars

 

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