Created by possibly the greatest (and certainly the most distinctive) horror film director of all time, Alfred Hitchcock, "Psycho" is the epitome of its genre. The reason? It has brilliant moments with very subtle humor, as well as a good deal of drama. And, of course, there's the horror. To be honest, this is not the scariest movie I have ever seen, but, "Psycho," unlike many recent films, has a complicated and gripping plot. It is much more than random slashings; there are many layers that one does not realize at first glance.
All the characters are well-developed and complex; no one is easily definable. Even the heroine, Lila Crane, is hardly a model of goodness. In fact, she could easily have been a villain. Those she encounters before her fateful visit to the Bates Motel all have sinister elements to them but even characters on the periphery seem to have stories behind them. This increases the movie's depth as well as the suspense, since you never know who to trust.
The movie's most famous scene is, of course, the shower scene. I can only imagine how scary it would be to see without knowing what is going to happen. Even knowing the girl's fate, and even having been hardened by the realistic gore and violence of more recent movies, this scene is still disquieting. Though I can't claim it made me never want to shower again, it certainly made me flinch. It is amazing what fear Hitchcock instills with just a shower, a knife, and a few pints of chocolate syrup (which is what he used for blood in this black and white film).
Vera Miles (Lila Crane) does a great job of acting suspicious, and Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates) does an amazing job of not acting too suspicious. "Psycho" does not rely heavily on acting, however. The strong suit of this movie is undoubtedly its plot. It starts off almost cheery (certainly not dark), but the story becomes increasingly threatening. There are twists, turns and traps throughout, and the end is the most surprising of all, though the movie's title is a bit of a hint.
This movie is rated R.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.