Going crazy over Psycho

The godfather of modern psychological horror films, Psycho, still leaves audiences – and me – reeling.

There are only a few movies that can ever truly withstand the test of time. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is one of those movies.

For those of you who have no clue who Alfred Hitchcock is…well, it’s hard to explain. He’s much, much more than just any old movie director; he’s an artist. If he’s not one of your favorite directors, he’s probably your favorite director’s favorite director. He’s that legendary, and he flexes those ingenious creative muscles right in front of you in Psycho.

Believe it or not, we’ve all seen Psycho. You probably recognize Janet Leigh’s screaming face in the picture above from a certain shower scene you might have seen once or twice, and if you haven’t…well, lucky you. You’ll have an even better time when you’re actually watching Psycho.

Set in 1960, Psycho starts off with Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane wanting to marry her boyfriend, Sam Loomis, who is played by John Gavin. Unfortunately, they can’t wed because of Sam’s outstanding debts. When an opportunity arises for Marion to grab some cash, she takes it and runs. That’s it. I can’t say anymore, for fear of ruining the story.

If you can’t tell already, Psycho is spectacular. Watching older movies has never been this suspenseful. Hitchcock knows exactly what he’s doing in this film; he plays with the audience and their perceptions, dancing around them while they try to figure out what the hell is happening. This is one of those movies where you realize that the film genre has shifted onto a different plane, an art with deep psychological messages and motives rather than 1000 or so random strips of film strung together into something vaguely resembling a movie. 

This film, however, would be lifeless without its amazing cast. Anthony Perkins, whose role in the film I won’t mention, played his character to such a tee, it’s not even an exaggeration. Janet Leigh was great, too, as well as the rest of the supporting characters. 

One thing you have to keep in mind when you see Psycho is that it’s a psychological horror film. It may appear boring or irrelevant on the surface, given that it was released in 1960, but it’s not. It’s one of those things that cannot be accurately conveyed on a sheet of paper. You have to see it in order to experience what horror meant in the 1960s, and still means today.

Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many flaws in the movie, at least from my perspective. The only thing I might nitpick about is that it takes 20 minutes for Perkins’s character to show up on screen, but other than that, the film holds up remarkably well. Not a single part of this film was cheesy or overdone in any way, shape or form, and the performances, again, were out of this world.

Psycho is just one of those films that draws you in slowly, making you think one way for half the film…and then turns on you, betrays your sense of trust. It does it again, and again, and again, until it’s all unraveled by the end, and the movie’s guts are spilled all over the floor for you to see. It leaves you thinking how the film got from point a to point b, and yet you understand everything perfectly. There’s no other classic film that could make you feel this way in just an hour and forty-five minutes.

So if you’re stuck inside on Halloween night and you’re sick of watching The Office for the tenth time, stay on Peacock, but instead search for Psycho. Sweet dreams.