Reviewed on 2007 November 1
My mother-in-law watched this movie with us one night when she came for a visit. After we all settled in to go to sleep, we heard her calling for us. One of our cats apparently snuck into the dresser drawer of our guest bedroom, and after Mom shut the drawer and turned out the light, the cat decided she wanted out. (Don’t worry, the cat was fine. She liked to sleep on the soft sweaters in the drawer.) The cat started banging on the side of the drawer, and tough as she was, my mother-in-law couldn’t bring herself to get out of bed and peek by herself: she wanted Mr. Shukti and I as backup. And you know, I don’t blame her. After countless viewings this movie can still get under your skin.
The beginning is deceptively mundane: Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) wants to marry her boyfriend Sam Loomis (John Gavin). He’s dragging his feet, saying he can’t afford to marry her — he has to deal with alimony on his low-paying job. After Marion goes to her bank job and hears her cow-orker Caroline (Alfred’s daughter Patricia Hitchcock in a cameo) bragging about her upcoming marriage for the zillionth time, she snaps and decides to improve her financial situation. She winds up at the Bates Motel, and meets Norman, the shy, twitchy son of the owner.
And here is where I stop telling you the plot and give you the background info. Hitchcock snuck some dark humor in here — I can almost hear him coaching Patricia to gloat more — but mostly, he decided to just scare the crap out of us using psychological horror and a smattering of blood and guts. I think he did an admirable job as usual. The music and the tension just get you even more worked-up for when he brings the hammer down. Anyone who’s seen this knows about the big revelation but the final shots are what get me. Its impact doesn’t seem to lessen over the years. When we were house-hunting, my husband and I passed up a Colonial on the historical register, because the kitchen reminded me too much of the Bates house.
Four chocolate morsels.