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Paul Jensen

PSYCHO (1960) 4 stars

The first modern horror film. Psycho wrote the textbook and we've been learning from it ever since (it's insane how many thrillers have borrowed from this masterpiece.) Bloch's novel nails the character of Norman Bates perfectly (based loosely on real-life serial killer Ed Gein) and Perkins performance steals the show. The re-occurring motif of mirrors, sets up not only the split personality, but also the dark side in each one of us. As Norman states, "we all go a little mad sometimes." Hitchock's mantra was, "we may not get caught for our crimes but we are all guilty of something." Psycho's cinematic brilliance epitomizes this. Also, huge kudos to Bernard Herrmann for the highly-influential all-strings score. Ultimately, Psycho changed the horror genre by transforming the traditional monster villain into the "boy next door." Hitchcock evoked the uncanny and made audiences terrified of ever taking a shower again. The horror escalates perfectly - from adultery to theft to murder to psychopathy. Gone are wholesome American family values, instead replaced by isolated and decaying dysfunctional families. 1960s, here we come!

 

Genre: Horror
Director: Alfred Hitchcock