Review of Psycho

Psycho (1998)
Public Service
16 March 2000
I find this one immune to both serious praise and harsh criticism because, like Joseph Losey's 1951 remake of "M", it's really more of an academic exercise than an attempt at cinema. Since Van Sant was wise enough to avoid any vain attempts to improve on the original, he ought not to have included even his occasional embellishments, such as Norman actually masturbating at the peep hole, the bloodied up murders and that silly bird menagerie down the cellar. If he'd held out for a slightly bigger budget, it could've been shot in black and white as a 1959 period piece. God knows the 40 year old dialogue doesn't remotely resemble present day speech patterns and the characters all belong to another era. One casting coup he either overlooked or couldn't pull off was coaxing the delightful Patricia Hitchcock out of retirement. Wouldn't she have been just perfect in the old Lureen Tuttle role as the sheriff's wife?

Still, I have to commend Van Sant for leaving most of his creative impulses at the door as he performed what amounted to a public service. This carbon copy, however under and over exposed along its frayed edges, is an excellent deterrent to some other clueless upstart who would've surely come along eventually and pulled a KING KONG or THE HAUNTING.
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