Psycho (1960 film) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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1960 film poster for Psycho (Wikipedia)

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film, Psycho, is 156 minutes of thrilling intensity that has captivated audiences for decades, although the typical horror movie fanatic may be unaware of its in-depth investigation into the human psyche. In its application of the ideas of Freud’s psychoanalysis, Psycho is considered by critics as one of the first psychoanalysis movies.

Marion Crane is working as a secretary for a real estate agency when she comes across a large sum of money from her boss’ client. After stealing the money, Marion leaves town and embarks on a journey that leads her to the Bates Motel, where she meets Norman Bates and his possessive, mentally-ill mother. Something is odd about the Bates, and when Marion goes missing, her sister and her boyfriend begin poking around the hotel. Little do they know, the very polite Norman is harbouring many dark secrets.

Despite having been released fifty years ago, the horror elements conveyed by this film are echoed in many other prominent horror films; be it the famous shower scene or the mysterious hidden basement in Norman Bates’ house.

One of the remarkable things about Hitchcock’s movies, especially Psycho, is how he uses sound and visuals to convey his desired concept. Even while introducing the title of the movie, Hitchcock applies the simple visual trick of shaking and tilting it, offering the idea that the term “psycho” in itself cannot be dedicated to a particular person. In the movie, Hitchcock succeeds in offering a clear alignment of the tension of sound to both mimic and increase the audience’s reaction.

Through his use of sound Hitchcock offers a direct comparison of Norman and Marion through the inner voices they each experience. This can be taken as a piece of evidence to confirm that both Marion and Norman are alike by their acts of deviance and impulse.

Having been a black-and-white picture movie, the production of Psycho was very limited in methods to portray the vivid elements of the genre that we are accustomed to today. Regardless, Hitchcock is able to utilize the elements of black and white to distinguish specific moods. He also uses the shades of clothing to depict a shifting attitude in his characters, for example a change in Marion’s lingerie from white to black signifying her relation to the stolen money.

Psycho is certainly entertaining and if you seek to indulge in one of the classics, or if you are interested in the Hitchcock’s more technical features, look no further than to this film. The sound effects will keep you engaged where the lack of colour and effects may lack, and you will get to experience a horror movie that has influenced so many to come. Psycho truly is a timeless movie, one that is packed with insightful ideas of psychology and is am absolute must-watch if you are a fan of psychological thrillers.