Luke Owen counts down to Halloween by reviewing horror movies from the last 60 years; next up is Psycho (1960)…
I was originally going to review the George A. Romero classic Night of the Living Dead but with the recent release of the trailer for Hitchcock, I felt it was only right to review one of my all-time favourite horror movies – Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
What is there left to say about this masterpiece of filmmaking? From its slow and elegant start, its beautiful and steadying ramping of tension through to its dizzying climax, Psycho really is one of cinema’s greats and holds its place proudly in the history of this wonderful medium. The performances from all players is outstanding, the score is genius and the cinematography is just wonderful. When it comes to listing movies that expertly made, Psycho is always high on the list.
This may sound like a daft thing to say, especially as we live in the Internet age and everything is known by everyone, but directors don’t make films like this anymore, they really don’t. Not only did Hitchcock create a horror movie that is full of genuine suspense as opposed to “peek-a-book” jump moments, he went to great lengths to keep the films twist a secret, having a video before the screening asking the audience, “please don’t spoil the ending of the movie, it’s the only one we have”. How many filmmakers now would tour round the country to speak to projectors to make sure that their movie was being shown in the right ratio to get the right scares? (None obviously as we no longer have projectionists).
On top of that, the film is incredibly suspenseful and keeps you on the edge of your seat even with multiple viewings. No matter how many times I see it, the infamous shower scene is so well choreographed, shot and edited. This is the sort of filmmaking that is lost in modern day horror. Each frame has been given consideration and it needed a genius like Hitchcock to pull it off – just look at the terrible 1998 Gus Van Sant version to see how he managed to make a complete mess of a shot-for-shot remake.
But as I said earlier, what more is there to say about a movie that has had everything said about it? In a lot of respects, Psycho is the perfect horror movie and is often cited as the first slasher. Without Psycho, we may not have had Halloween, Friday the 13th etc. and without those, we may not have the horror genre we have today. If you’ve never seen Psycho before, you owe it to yourself to buy it and watch it this Halloween. The gore levels are low which may disappoint a modern day viewer, but that’s not the point of the movie. The scares come from the suspense, great performances and masterful direction. A true gem of cinema history and one of my all-time favourites.
Gore: ★ / Scares: ★ ★ ★ / Entertainment: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.