Psycho is less of a horror film than a study about the nature of paranoia and fear and how that influences our actions. A classic directed originally by Alfred Hitchcock, it's no surprise that Hollywood decided to remake it, this time helmed by Gus Van Sant.

The movie starts off briskly, with the embezzlement of $400,000 by Marion Crane (Anne Heche) a secretary in a real estate firm. Marion wants to start a new life with her boyfriend in Fairvale, California. As Marion drives away from Phoenix, she feels guilty and imagines all kinds of disastrous scenarios where she is apprehended by the authorities. Exhausted, she decides to stay at the Bates Motel off the freeway, run by Norman Bates. Unbeknownst to her, Norman is a sick and twisted individual (read: psycho). Her entering Norman's life causes a chain of events that leads to several deaths, and eventually to his breakdown.

While the killing scenes are chilling depicted in a detached manner (much like the original film, which made the shower scene famous), they're not very scary---it's easy to predict. What's fascinating about this film is how the relationship between Norman and his mother is handled, especially given how the ending turns out (something you can find value generally only in hindsight). Pay close attention to the settings and the conversations with Norman about his mother.

Comparisons to the previous version of the film have been done death and I think it's just best to accept that any remake would've had a hard time meeting its expectations given the favourite Psycho has become (which in my view isn't even Hitchcock's best film, but is a decent novel by Robert Bloch). Vince Vaughn is effective as a socially maladjusted Norman even though I felt there could've been a better choice of casting made. The other characters are just foil for his psychosis. The theme music is made richer and fuller by Danny Elfman. There is value in seeing in it in colour. If you've not seen this version or the original, I highly recommend both.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||