Monday, 29 June 2015

June 2015 Blindspot: Psycho

Psycho, 1960
Directed By Alfred Hitchcock

Somehow, I've been able to get away with never having seen Psycho until this point! I mean, I saw the shower scene in film class, and I've even watched that movie, Hitchcock, about the making of this movie. But somehow, I hadn't seen this movie yet (to the somewhat shock of my in-laws).

Psycho is pretty much the first movie I knew I had to have on my Blindspot list. I mean, it's Psycho! It's Hitchcock! I need to see much more of his films than I've seen (which, before watching this one, consisted only of seeing Rebecca and Rope). So I'm glad I finally got around to seeing this one.

If you don't know already, Psycho is about a young woman who arrives at the Bates Motel after embezzling money from her employer and going on the run. But something isn't quite right about this Motel. (Obviously, spoilers will be following).

As I understand, Psycho was an extremely controversial film to come out. The Hays Production Code had dissolved not too long ago, and Hitchcock made plenty of controversial content decisions. The film itself opens up to Marion Crane and her lover, sharing a bed, and Marion just in her underwear and bra. We also get hints of nudity in the famous shower scene, and even small things like showing a toilet flushing was considered risque. And while this stuff is hardly considered controversial today, it thankfully never feels like any of it was done just for "shock value". Everything seems natural and central to the story.

Anyway, there's so much to love about Psycho. It's a great slasher film, but it doesn't just get caught up in the blood and horror. Once we hit that incredible shower scene about 30 minutes into the film (killing off our, up until then, main character), we go back and forth between people being murdered, but also Marion's lover and her sister trying to figure out what has happened to her, now that she's been missing for a week. The balance between the two different "sides" of the story is done very well.

As well, Anthony Perkins- what a performance he gave! Norman Bates comes off so naive and sincere in the beginning, but then things start to slowly feel off. He gave such a layered performance that it's too bad there wasn't any recognition he received from it. Janet Leigh, who played Marion, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars. Fair enough, she was also quite good, but Anthony Perkins really does steal the show. Especially that final scene in which his mind, speaking as his mother, takes over. Thankfully, Alfred Hitchcock himself did get some recognition for this. While it wasn't nominated for Best Picture (probably just a little too divisive at the time?), Hitchcock managed to be nominated for Best Director, which was an incredibly deserved nomination.

Psycho, had it come out today, probably would've been well received, but not received as much acclaim. Pyscho was released with divisive reviews, but it was the most talked about thing of the time. Controversial, scary and somewhat explicit, Hitchcock really had the conversation going, and it really helped in his favour. However, Psycho is fairly, and rightly a classic, and should be on all must-watch lists. Psycho is a perfect thriller and a horror genre film done with class and masterclass. Simple in premise, but done with attention to detail and perfection.

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