Although I had seen parts of Psycho and knew the ultimate twist, I still found Hitchcock’s ‘masterpiece’ to be suspenseful, unimaginably creepy, and very scary. Norman Bates painted the portrait of a true sociopath-able to appear normal to his acquaintances and strangers masking the true madness that existed inside him. After reflecting on the fact that this movie came out in 1960 I feel that audiences at this time would have found his character even more alarming (without the ‘serial killer’ tropes we discussed in class implanted in their minds by the likes of CSI and slasher films).
I think another reason the movie was so terrifying was the masterful way Hitchcock twisted the plot to make you always unsure of what was going to happen next. I think especially with horror films we tend to try and guess the twist, who will die next, and who the murderer really is. In Psycho there are so many possibilities, (planted with lines like “well who’s buried in the cemetery then?” “she didn’t’ fool mother” “you stole the 40,000 didn’t you? For a nice new hotel?” and “that mother knows something about what happened to my sister!”) that you are left to constantly reevaluate who you think the bad guy is and what their motive would be. I don’t think I ever would have thought Norman was his mother had I not known to famously creepy ending already. This is why this film is regarded as a horror classic-not only for its originality of story but also for the way the plot leads the viewer slowly, unwittingly into the depths of Norman’s madness.
And finally, the last scene of Psycho was (to me) was the scariest.
I commend actor Anthony Perkins for his chilling performance during this monologue with himself/mother. I think his casting was brilliant-he looked harmless enough and had a softness about him that was the perfect cloak to hide the villain hidden underneath. The true and irreversible psycho is finally revealed to the audience in this scene after we understand his insanity and get to see just how deep the dual identity of mother goes within his mind. He was not some loony just dressing in a wig and running around killing women- he was a misunderstood, complex, and almost empathetic monster who couldn’t even escape himself.