Article écrit par E. D., élève de 1ère LLCER2 , critique en anglais du film Psychose d’Hitchcock projeté au cinéma Jean Eustache en décembre dans le cadre de Lycéens et apprentis au cinéma.

Often presented as the best movie ever released and as one of the most influent horror movies in cinema history, Psycho lives up to its reputation. Released on November the 2nd 1960, it is the most successful Hitchcock movie. It was shot in black and white and used a cheap budget even for the standards of that period because the “Master of suspense” wanted Psycho to look like a cheap exploitation film.

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) has problems in her relationship with her lover Sam Loomis (John Gavin). He cares for her but doesn’t want to commit and both of them have financial difficulties. So, one day, Marion robs $40,000 at her job and drives away with the money. We think that the point of the story is about the theft but Hitchcock is the master of red herrings. Moreover, the film director adds some characters like an oppressive policeman to let us follow this decoy. While she’s driving, Marion is hit by a violent rainstorm and has to pull over at the Bates Motel far away from the highway to get some rest. After giving her a room, the manager, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), asks Marion if she wants to have dinner at his house but Norman’s mother does not seem to want a girl to have dinner with them. As a consequence they eat behind Norman’s desk.  The atmosphere is really oppressive and uncomfortable. We still think that the plot is about the money thanks to the close ups focusing only on the cash in the envelope. Later in the night, Marion takes a shower and that’s when we realize that we were following a red herring since the beginning. Norman spies on her thanks to a hole in the wall and while she’s showering, (the famous scene that inspired so many horror movies) the plot twists : he kills her. We figure out that it’s a murder story and that it was absolutely not about the money.  In this movie, the characters are very complex and the plot is really innovative and daring for the time.

The most influent horror movies in cinema history

This movie really deserves its reputation. Hitchcock knows perfectly how to set a creepy and oppressive atmosphere. He is a master at it. Plus the movie is really bold for the time because of the Hays Code. For the soundtrack, it’s good but sometimes it’s too much just like when Marion is driving with the stolen money and suddenly intense music starts making the scene scarier than it really is. The end remains surprising even though I figured it out the moment Norman cleans the shower after the murder. The idea of portraying madness is a really interesting point for the 60s. As a horror fan, I find it important to watch that movie because it’s the origin of so many horror classics and of the slasher genre (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre…). To conclude, this movie is worth watching.