Starring: Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Running Time: 109 mins
Psycho is an American film about a young woman who steals $40,000 from her boss in Arizona, and goes on the run immediately, only to find herself at the mysterious Bates Motel, run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
This film is just unbelievably brilliant. The master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, tries his hand at the most suspenseful genre here, and pulls it off with pure perfection. This is an absolutely thrilling story, full of shocks, twists and scares that make this a real rollercoaster of a film to watch.
Where can I start with this? One of the most impressive things is the way in which the film’s screenplay manages to constantly surprise you in stepping up the tension and the fear on more than one occasion, with the initial story immediately grabbing you and even scaring you, before moving onto the next part of the plot, even more tense, and then the last act, where everything is dialled all the way up to eleven.
Also, the pacing of the story is excellent. From the beginning, although it may seem like quite a clichéd and predictable plot in act one, it manages to grab you within seconds, making what is in reality quite a typical story incredibly thrilling to watch.
And then, when you get into the horror part of the film, at the Bates Motel, it becomes the ultimate mix of every single emotion you can possibly feel while watching a film. Terror, excitement, hope, despair, confusion, and everything in between, which really has a properly profound impact on you as you’re watching the film.
Although it seems odd that a film with such a strong basis on lengthy dialogue scenes can be so gripping, it’s the fantastically unpredictable development of the characters as the film goes along that makes these properly exciting to watch, as while you’re listening closely to what they’re talking about, there’s always a clear fear in the back of your mind that something terrible could happen at any second.
Acting-wise, there’s also pretty much perfection. Janet Leigh does a perfect job of being the likeable but mysterious main character, making her fate all the more impacting, and Vera Miles and John Gavin brilliantly portray the concerned relatives, who become the unexpected main focus towards the end, and become all the more important to you as a viewer.
However, you’ve got to hand it to Anthony Perkins for his incredible performance as the horribly chilling Norman Bates, who is such an enigma to look at the entire way through the film, and becomes horrifically frightening to even watch by the end of the film (mainly because of his terrifying eyes), when the ultimate, completely unexpected twist is revealed about him.
Also, there’s some amazing direction on the part of Mr. Hitchcock himself, along with excellent dark cinematography and a chilling soundtrack to make the atmosphere of this film all the more tense and exciting to watch.
So, I’ll give this a 9.7, because it is a classic thriller that really frightens, excites, confuses and intrigues you all the way through, and definitely deserves to go down as one of the best films of all time.
(It’s been a long time coming, but Slumdog Millionaire‘s 14-month tenure as the best film is now over (not to say it’s bad, but Psycho’s a hell of a lot better).)