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Psycho

movie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Psycho

Starring: Anne Heche, Vince Vaughn
Director: Gus Van Sant
Rated: R
RunTime: 109 Minutes
Release Date: December 1998
Genres: Suspense, Thriller




Review by David Wilcock
2 stars out of 4

Although this remake of Alfred Hitchcocks classic Psycho (1960) seems to want to be taken seriously, it comes across as nothing but an oddity made by an overly ambitious film student. The film, nearly a scene to scene remake, comes across as pointless to those who have seen the original. The classic story, about Norman Bates (Vaughn) who has a bloodthirsty mother who kills Marion Crane (Heche,) who has stolen $400,000, is familiar to many. Which means the shocks and scares the original had are nearly lost. Also, because the film is almost exactly the same, it can't be said that this remake is an attempt to better the original.

Still, it's a pleasant film, with no major flaws. Anne Heche is excellent as Marion, carrying the entire first half of the film with ease. She's better than Janet Leigh, delivering a much more rounded and tougher performance, yet still keeping that daffy, angelic look that the role requires. Julianne Moore as her sister is also very good, leaving an impact on the audience even if she isn't the film very long. William H. Macy is as dependable as ever as the the private investigator who is trying to piece together the mystery. It's seems that it's impossible for Macy to deliver a poor performance, and he doesn't disappoint here. But while the supporting cast is fine, including Viggo Mortensen as Marions husband Sam Loomis, there are some problems with Vince Vaughns performance as Norman Bates, the jittery owner of the Bates motel. Rather than coming across as naturally nervous like Anthony Perkins outstanding performance, Vaughn is quite obviously faking the jitteriness, including an horribly forced giggle. His performance is almost campy, it's like he's a bully doing an impression of the wimpy kid at school. His frame is also too imposing to look like the nice man who is extreme mothers boy. Considering the film centres around his character, he does seem to drag the film down with him. It's a shame, because the rest of the cast were very good.

Apart from the cast and setting (the film is now set in a bizarre 1998 where 60's clothes still rule supreme) nothing much has changed from the original shocker. Director Gus Van Sant always intended this to be as faithful as possible, and from the Saul Bass credits sequence to the infamous shower scene, nothing much has changed. Van Sant has basically shown what the film would be like if it was filmed in colour. The bird symbolism still exists, and there's a clever scene where the audience sees Hitchcocks cameo from the original film. (A look-a-like is standing outside Marions workplace.) The direction is fine, the script as good as it ever was, the music still shrieking and tension inducing (the music now produced by Danny Elfman.) But even though Psycho is an enjoyable movie, there just this strange feeling that there's no point to this remake. Nothing has been changed (except from the inclusion of a few butt shots just for the sake of it) and, in honesty, Hitchcock seemed to handle the film better than today's Hollywood. Obviously, after the success of Good Will Hunting (1997) Van Sant was given the opportunity to direct whatever film he wanted, and it was probably his 'ambition' to recreate Psycho for the nineties. It's a nice idea, and it may appeal to today's younger audience, but for the rest who have seen and enjoyed the original, this reworking is somewhat a waste of time. I'd recommend the film, but only for novelty value.

Copyright 1999 David Wilcock

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