RJ Bayley Reviews: Psycho

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It’s easy enough to be a hardcore horror fan and not to have seen director Alfred Hitchcock’s none-more-legendary Psycho. Heralded as the most important horror movie ever made, Psycho has taken on an almost Citizen Kane level of importance and as such comes with assumptions it will be a fair lengthy, arguably difficult watch that’s to be appreciated more than enjoyed.

Psycho, however, is not the ponderous, slow ball-ache that Citizen Kane is. Psycho more than deserves its reputation, because Psycho is near perfect.

Unlike many other ‘greats’, Psycho still feels incredibly fresh. Yes, John Gavin’s Sam Loomis is very stifled and the acting feels of its time, but a great deal more elements outweigh this mark of age. Take the scene in which Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) get into a debate about the nature of people, of how no one is capable of running from anything, that we always cage ourselves in our own traps. The content of the discussion is still evocative and profound, and writer Joseph Stefano’s language is sheer poetry.

Perkins is perfect as Norman Bates, very nervous and polite, completely disarming. He gives such a believable and sincere performance it’s absolutely baffling that he never got roles that gave him more of a legacy than Norman Bates.

Do you need more of a legacy than Norman Bates however? Alongside Darth Vader he is arguably the greatest villain in cinema. While there can be no surprise in the film’s twist, so completely is it part of popular consciousness, Perkin’s performance keeps you 100% riveted for the entire film. His talent, combined with Hitchcock’s visionary visual ideas makes for one of the greatest and most chilling ending scenes in cinema history, no matter how many times you see it.

Alfred Hitchcock’s and Anthony Perkin’s Psycho is simply one of the greatest films ever made.

★★★★★

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