Review 12: Psycho (remake) (.5/5)


Directed by Gus van Sant

Starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortinson, William H. Macy

Released on December 4, 1998

Running time: 1h 49m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

I may have had a bone to pick with the original Psycho‘s R rating, but I fully support the R rating of the 1998 shot-for-shot remake.

Though this is a shot-for-shot remake, there are some major changes. The most obvious one is this: in the scene in which Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn) looks through the peephole at Marion Crane (Anne Heche) as she undresses, he masturbates. No, really. We hear the damp, rhythmic rubbing sounds as he does the deed, and we hear him quietly grunt as he climaxes. Ew. Oh, and he has porn magazines in his room.

Another one: during both of the murder scenes, as the knife rises and falls, the scene is … intercut with surreal imagery, like writhing and roiling storm clouds, or a woman dressed like she’s in Fifty Shades of Grey, or other surreal dream images. And then there’s the gratuitous butt shot of Marion Crane as she falls over in the shower, and the gratuitous butt shot of Sam Loomis (Viggo Mortinson). Both are completely unnecessary.

Oh, and there’s the fact that the blood is now in color.

Gone are the sassiness and erotic undertones of Janet Leigh. Anne Heche turns into a tiny, weak, scared little mouse that’s practically begging to be caught by my cats.

Gone is the unreadable, unpredictable, and undeniably insane Anthony Perkins. Vince Vaughn (who I KNOW is a nice guy, I just can’t stand him as an actor) throws social awkwardness and ineptitude into a role for which he was seriously miscast. He’s just…not skinny. He chuckles at inappropriate times.

This remake has the style: the cinematography, the story, the characters, the classic dialogue. It even tries to recreate the scares. But it lacks this major thing: the substance. It is reshot awkwardly. It is acted awkwardly. It is updated for 1998 awkwardly, especially in a scene in which Lila tells Sam, “Let me get my Walkman”. It lacks the feeling that something’s actually happening.

We all know the story: Marion Crane steals $40,000 (now $400,000, but still in cash) from her boss’s client. She starts to flee to the shop of her boyfriend, Sam Loomis. En route, she stops at the Bates Motel, where she meets the very strange Norman Bates. She takes a shower and is killed by his mother. Marion’s sister Lila, Sam, and a detective named Arbogast team up to find Marion. Arbogast is killed by Mother when he goes solo at the Bates Motel. Lila and Sam do their own investigation, go to the motel, and discover that Mother is Norman. Norman is committed to a sanatorium.

It’s not necessarily the things that were taken away. It’s the things that were added.

If Norman was ever caught even admiring his manhood in the mirror, Mother would force him to wear a dress in an attempt to curb his masculine tendencies. And she would go BALLISTIC if she’d caught Norman with porno mags in his room.

Despite Danny Elfman’s decent recreation of Bernard Herrmann’s original soundtrack, it lacks the Herrmannian touch.

Just like this movie lacks any sort of Hitchcockian touch.

While the material from the original Psycho isn’t goshawful, the material added by van Sant (the idiot who gave us the desperately politically correct bilge known as Milk) makes the final result almost insufferable.

Therefore proving that shot-for-shot remakes are entirely pointless.

At least Vince Vaughn TRIED.

Final verdict: .5 out of 5 stars


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