Psycho | Teen Ink


May 22, 2008
By Anonymous

Alfred Hitchcock built his career on the ability to create some of the most suspenseful, thrilling, and terrifying films known to man. Some of his works include “The Birds”, “Vertigo”, and “Rear Window”. However none of these compare to the brilliance of his film “Psycho”. This movie represents the all of the traits in the others but to the extreme due to many factors including a bone chilling character, the eerie set, and the gripping use of color and soundtrack.

Character. When the audience first meets Norman Bates, they see just a typical motel owner. However, as the movie progresses, Norman Bates turns into one of the most horrifying people ever to be on screen. At first he appears looking very kept with his dark penetrating eyes, his gelled back hair, and his black work attire. He looked the part of a small town professional. But, when he meets Marion Crane, he becomes like a giddy school girl. It becomes apparent through his ear to ear grin that he misses out on company and companionship. He quickly asks her to dine with him which when she accepts, he merrily rushes off. At this point the audience recognizes that Norman possesses dog like traits because he needs someone’s attention, then he acts like a dog just receiving a bone when she accepted the invitation, and then like a dog, he tries to impress.
The next time Norman the audience sees an interesting character trait, happens right after the shower seen. Norman walks into Marion’s room only to find her lying in the shower with blood oozing from her body. Norman immediately feels a sense of sickness and sadness. He bursts into tears at the sight. But, he briskly cleans up the room. He cleans the room almost as if he has cleaned it before. He mechanically flushes papers, mops the floor, and disposes of all of the remnants of Marion in the pond. He acts like the Jetson’s robotic maid Rosie. He shows no thought process, it looks as though he by design cleans rapidly and efficiently.
Then things start to go downhill for Norman. A Detective and Marion’s sister and boyfriend show up to find Marion. Upon questioning, Norman sweats profusely. He rarely makes eye contact. And he spends most of his time in his house even with visitors. When Marion’s boyfriend questions him one on one, Norman turns violent. He knocks the boyfriend unconscious and runs to his house. After noticing that someone broke into his house he wearily tries to locate his mother. The next thing we see, shows Norman donning his mother’s apparel and trying to attack Marion’s sister. His eyes look like black holes at this point. All essences of humanity left him by this point. The most petrifying scene however depicts Norman sitting in an asylum with a straight jacket. We hear his mothers voice and see his soul piercing eyes. These eyes appear to be penetrating your core. Hitchcock uses the set to also develop the movie.

Set. The majority of the movie takes place at the Bates Motel. This motel situates itself on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere. There are no other cars passing by at any time of day. It is very similar to the town in the movie “Cars” with it showing no signs of life. The Bates motel and Bates’ house both lie on the same property. The hill leading up to the house contains no living vegetation. It all appears dead. The winding rocky staircase leads to the house. The house a shingled Victorian looking house illuminated by lights within the windows, overshadows the motel. It gazes down at the humble one story motel. All in all the set creates a sense of fear, uneasiness, and wonder. The movie also uses sound to further the story.

Soundtrack. When one hears the mention of the movie Psycho, they react by remembering the shower scene. But what about this scene makes it so frightening? The stabbing. The screams. The blood. Yes, all of those affected the scene, but the squealing music in the background made the scene. It sounded like a continually scraping of nails on a chalk board. That noise stays in your mind. No one forgets that gut wrenching noise.

Alfred Hitchcock employed a variety of techniques to aid the story. He used strange frightening characters, the set, and sound. All of those combined create the perfect recipe for success in a horror film.

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