Monday, March 25, 2013

Psycho II

A couple of weeks ago I discovered that there was a sequel to Psycho, aptly named Psycho II.
I had to see it for several reasons:
 * It isn't necessary at all storywise
 * It couldn't possibly live up to the original Hitchcock film
 * It would probably be laughably terrible

I bought a cheap copy of the DVD on ebay and put it on late at night. I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't a Hitchcock film by any means but it is well-made (for the most part) and has an enjoyable plot and feel to it.

Some spoilers ahead so if you are already interested in seeing Psycho II, you should go watch it and come back after. With that out of the way, on to the review. The setup for the movie is also the tagline: "It's 22 years later, and Norman Bates is coming home." The beginning of the movie establishes that Norman is now cured, deemed fit to leave in the mental institution where he's been since his trial for the murders from the first time around. We return to the now iconic house and hotel. Norman has a job as a cook's helper upon his return but he's mistreated by the townspeople and soon starts receiving notes and calls from 'mother.' Is someone tormenting him or is he just going crazy again?

Anthony Perkins was a treat to watch in this movie and it's hard not to have some sympathy for him. Vera Miles returns as Lila and is set on putting Norman back in the insane asylum. There are some poor lines and wooden dialogue especially in the beginning. However, some revealing dialogue shows the writer's grasp of the underlying themes in the first movie. When Lila is asked about Sam (Marion Crane/s lover) she responds, "My husband is dead." This draws the viewer's attention to the changing protagonist theme from the first film. Other stylistic and thematic similarities include the use of mirrors and birds. Some of these visual moments felt forced to me while others worked quite well. The Hitchcock touch and style were missing which may be why it felt that way. Some of the murders themselves were more like what you'd expect from an 80s horror movie than a Hitchcock classic.

There are plenty of plot twists and "gotcha" moments and for the most part, they work well without derailing the mood of the movie. It's able to maintain a sense of dread and anticipation that, though it doesn't match the first, holds up well internally. The wonderfully crafted soundtrack (by Jerry Goldsmith) does a lot to sustain the mood. I also really enjoyed the cruel irony of Bates trying to stay sane while everyone around him wanted to see him go insane. This extends to the viewer because how is it a 'Psycho' movie if someone isn't dressing up as their mother and stabbing girls in showers?

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