Monday, March 5, 2012

Psycho (1998)

If ever a film could be deemed 'unnecessary,' it is in the case of Universal's PSYCHO remake from 1998. No one is more aware of this, however, than director Gus Van Sant, who laughingly spits in the face of the studio system by literally creating a shot-for-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock's original shooting script. The initial results are quite amazing, and replicated to an impressive degree. Even more so than Hitchkock, Van Sant attempts to show that actors are nothing more than pawns under his control, but in the process, he proves there is much more that goes in to the success of a film than simple framing and editing. Van Sant's experiment in terror inevitably fails, no matter how close he comes to replicated the physical structure of the original. His is a soulless film, played out by an otherwise talented cast who are unable to bring the essence of life to their characters. By working off of Joe Stefano's original script and under the constraints of a duplication process, the delivery of the now dated dialog becomes forced and unnatural. We see actors acting, rather than characters interacting. Or, in Vince Vaugh's case, we see actors failing. Vaugh is a poor substitute for Anthony Perkins, and is simply unbecoming in the role. The novelty of Van Sant's cinematic prank wares off soon after Norman Bates is introduced, and without any new surprises left to look forward to, the remainder of the film becomes disastrously boring. In the end, the PSYCHO remake is nothing more than an intriguing concept and an experiment gone wrong that further solidifies Alfred Hitchcock's position as the Master of Horror.

Rating: 6/10.


  1. Gus Van Sant is a talented filmmaker - but his "Psycho" was unnecessary and offensive crap.

  2. It's a cute joke at the start at least, I love seeing the similarities in the opening act, but I lose interest so quickly after.

  3. Thanks for that great review...exactly how I felt watching it but could not put it into words. Thanks for sharing.


  4. I had never seen the original and I recently saw this one. I usually don't like movies that are so widely berated by critics, but I thought Psycho was fantastic. It speaks more for the storyline created by Hitchcock that his story is still very entertaining 50 years later. The musical score is as good as it gets, in my opinion. For the people that love the original, I can see why they think this one was unnecessary (seeing as how it's a frame for frame, line for line duplication). The murder scenes were a little cheesy for modern movie standards (as far as graphics and visual appeal), but that's because it's a duplication of the 1960 movie. Overall, I liked it because I thought the storyline, score, and screenplay were great.

  5. Each of the elements that you described liking were taken directly from the original screenplay by Joseph Stefano (as adapted from the novel by Robert Bloch) and the original film score by Bernard Herrmann. The remake is simply acted out by lesser actors, and has a sense of artifice about it that does not exist in the original. I would recommend sitting down with the original PSYCHO to note what a huge difference actors and directing can make, but also take in to account that Hitchcock is only partially responsible for the success of PSYCHO.


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