Psycho (1998)


12 Cabins, 12 Vacancies

I feel like I’ve made a mistake that I can’t rectify now. I probably should have watched the original of this movie before watching the remake, but I didn’t and I doubt I’ll be able to by the time this review comes out. Today’s movie is a remake of a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie, and I’ve never seen a Hitchcock movie before. Calm down, everybody! It wasn’t like I refused to watch them, it just never came up. And once I had started today’s movie, I started realizing that I should’ve watched the original first. But, in my defense, this movie could potentially have been hurt by everybody comparing it to the original, and I’m going in unbiased. Yeah, that’s a good excuse. I win. … The movie is Psycho, this version written by Joseph Stefano, directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Viggo Mortensen, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Philip Baker Hall, Anne Haney, James Remar, Rita Wilson, James LeGros, Flea, and Robert Forster.

Marion Crane (Anne Heche) has a fantastic boyfriend named Sam Loomis (Viggo Mortensen), who is married and in debt. What makes him fantastic? He is Viggo! You are like the buzzing of flies to him! Psst. I WILL make that joke for every Viggo Mortensen performance I review. You’ve been warned. Anyways, Marion works at some job that I never really figured out. Realty, I think? Anyways, she steals $400,000 from a guy who came in to talk with her boss and pay for something in cash. She takes it to get her boyfriend out of debt. She starts driving to California to see him. A cop wakes her up as she sleeps on the side of the road in her car and her skittish demeanor makes him suspicious, so he follows her. She trades her car in for a new one to lose him (even though she knows he’s parked across the street), and even though he comes up, sees her take the new car, and probably talks with the salesperson about her paying in cash, he does not follow. … Whatever, we just need her to get to the Motel, right? She gets caught in a rainstorm and pulls off at the Bates Motel. She meets Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn), who owns the place. He has plenty of rooms because no one ever comes by. He apparently lives there with his mother, who is crazy. He seems nice enough until she suggests putting his mother in an institution, and he gets very upset. She goes to her room, where she decides to return the money the next day, and then goes to take a shower. Do I really haveta tell you how that shower ends?

I didn’t really like this movie, and that proves to me that I also won’t like the original. I HAVE SPOKEN! Even though I’ve never seen the original, I feel like I pretty much know it by heart because of parodies and just seeing scenes from it everywhere. I know the whole mother surprise, I know the shower scene, I know Norman looking through the hole in the wall, I don’t remember him masturbating as he did it, and I’ve actually been to the damned Motel on the Universal lot. That being the case, I feel like this movie stuck so close to the original (or at least what I know about it) that there really wasn’t any reason to make it. The only difference is that it’s in color and stars people I know. And if you aren’t going to add to it (but may potentially subtract from it) there’s no reason to do it. I did not, however, know there was a second half of this movie. I don’t know how I thought this movie worked out, being an entire movie leading up to a murder in a shower and cross-dressing revealed in the last 5 minutes, but I did. So it was interesting to find out what happened in the second half. I wish I had ever figured out what time this movie was supposed to take place in though. I thought they replicated this movie so much that they even set it in the 60s, especially when William H. Macy showed up. Macy acted like a pretty typical 60s cop, and then Julianne Moore walks in wearing a Walkman, for no apparent reason other than to say “PSYCH … O!” There were a bunch of things that didn’t work in this movie, the biggest of which was the music. I know it was a nod to Hitchcock, but I found it kind of tedious and adding to tension that wasn’t there. They would have really tense driving music when Heche was driving in her car. COME ON! She WAS getting herself all worried by having a really annoying interior monologue of people talking about her and figuring out what she’d done, but SHE was worried, not me. I was bored. You don’t need to lay everything flat on the table for the audience, we can figure some things out. But they do that again at the very end of the movie, where the psychologist that talks to Norman lays out exactly what he did and why he did it for about 5 minutes and I was thinking “Yeah, I know. I figured it out when I saw him in the wig.”

The performances were fine in this movie. Not spectacular, but mostly not horrible. Vince Vaughn was kind of like other Vince Vaughn characters, but more creepy, shy, and nervous. Anne Heche looked, and acted, pretty good in this. Her performance in the shower scene seemed a little off, but I think she was trying to do a remake of the performance from the original. Otherwise her reaction to being stabbed was perhaps a bit strange. I had no idea that Viggo Mortensen, Julianne Moore, or William H. Macy were even in this, but I was happy to see they got a pretty descent cast for a movie that didn’t need to happen. I thought Macy’s performance was strange when I started to figure out that this was supposed to be happening in the 80s, but it wasn’t off-putting. The thing that WAS off-putting was how bad his death was. It wasn’t his fault, but I forgot to put it in the last paragraph and I ain’t goin all the way up there to add it. He “falls” down the stairs, but it’s fairly obvious that the “down the stairs” part is green screen and he’s just standing in front of it flailing.

Based on what I know, this seems like a shot for shot remake of a movie regarded as a classic, but I found it to be very boring. Judging by the other reviews for the two movies, my guess is they did a poor job trying to remake the original, which probably didn’t need to be remade. The performances were mostly okay, but the movie didn’t really need to be made. We’ll see if neither movie needed to be made if I ever get around to the original. In the meantime, you don’t really need to watch this one. The remake of Psycho gets “We all go a little mad sometimes” out of “A son is a poor substitute for a lover”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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