Psycho: Exploring The Subconscious Of Norman Bates

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) works in Phoenix, Arizona and is annoyed at having to sneak away during her breaks to meet her lover, Sam Loomis (John Gavin). One day, Marion’s employer requests that she take $40,000 to a local bank to deposit. She wants to make a change in her life and decides to leave town with the money to start a new life in California with Sam. As day turns into a night, it starts to rain and the road is blurred. Marion turns off the main road, tired from her drive, and the stress of her immoral act of theft. She spends the night in a motel, Bates Motel, a place run by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). He’s a strange man with an unwavering love for his mother. After Norman makes her dinner, Marion goes back to her room for a shower.

Alfred Hitchcock film tells a story inspired by the antics of infamous and real life killer Ed Gein, based on Robert Bloch’s Psycho. Psycho is directed by one of the most talked about and admired directors in the history cinema, Alfred Hitchcock. It’s been talked about to death, and then some. If you’ve never watched it, you must. Not because pompous film buffs tell you to do so, but simply because it’s one of the best movies of all time and it’s entertaining. Janet Leigh (Touch Of Evil) plays Marion Crane, a plain office assistant who decides to steal $40,000 dollars to live a fairytale life with Sam (Gavin). But with stories like these, nothing ever goes according to plan. That’s be just too easy. She was doing well until she stops in the wrong motel in the middle of nowhere. Here, she befriends a lonely man called Norman Bates.

"It was the knife that, a moment later, cut off her scream. And her head.” - Robert Bloch, Psycho. Janet Leigh As Marion Crane in Hitchcock's Psycho (Psycho, Paramount Pictures)

“It was the knife that, a moment later, cut off her scream. And her head.” – Robert Bloch, Psycho
Janet Leigh As Marion Crane In Psycho
(Psycho, Paramount Pictures)

We have Anthony Perkins (The Trial) playing the psychotic killer and motel clerk Bates. He’s astonishingly natural in the role and he has the aura that I felt from Bates when I read the book. He has become the character and it’s truly creepy, with: the stammering, anxiety and the notorious facial tics. Perkins succeeds in being so strange and mysterious but also magnetic in his excellent performance. I very much liked his chat with Martin Balsam’s Arbogast. Hitchcock has a knack for creating suspense between his cast in his movies, especially in Psycho. Heck, they don’t call him “The Master Of Suspense” for no reason. There are scenes in Psycho that make one shake for anticipation. Norman makes the audience feel nervous but at the same time, you feel glued to the screen because of Perkins.

Psycho doesn’t only win with its cast, but also with its set pieces such as the grubby motel. We also have an old inconspicious house that reminds me of something that Bram Stoker or even Mary Shelley could have come up with. Lastly there’s the low-class bedrooms and bathroom. In 2016, we’re now in a time where we see more movies that rely on special effects and fast action sequences to draw audiences in. Hitchcock proved that he could make all kinds of movies and still sell cinema tickets, though Psycho was his biggest picture. In Hollywood today, we need more original stories. I love Star Wars and superhero movies as much as the next person, but those types of films are saturating original stories. Nobody wants to invest in something they may or may not catch with audiences. Films with already known characters make money but the ones that make money aren’t always the best acted or best-written. But once in  a while you get a film that is all three; well-acted, well-written and makes money. That’s Psycho.

"We're all not quite as sane as we pretend to be.” - Robert Bloch, Psycho Anthony Perkins is the boyish and charming psychotic killer Norman Bates (Psycho, Paramount Pictures)

“We’re all not quite as sane as we pretend to be.” – Robert Bloch, Psycho
Anthony Perkins is the boyish and charming psychotic killer Norman Bates
(Psycho, Paramount Pictures)

It is no secret that the 2010s is the era of the comic book movie, but I think amidst all the sparkling dames and vanish men, we need original ideas and stories. Not remakes or sequels, but original stories; even if those stories are inspired by original novels or plays. Even films like The Neon Demon, Nice Guys and Captain Fantastic. They were Hollywood movies but they weren’t bloated by special effects. That’s what you call storytelling in its finest sense. Originality is something that is few and far between at the moment. Hitchcock’s Psycho is a classic, filled with awesome performances from all the cast, excellent camera work, suspenseful direction and storytelling that really could dismiss you. Next time you’re in a motel, just think what lurks on the other side of the curtain?

This is a classic, that at its bare-bones is about a boy’s relationship with his best friend, his mother