Yes, that is the obvious question. Why would director Gus Van Sant want
to reconstruct the Alfred Hitchcock classic from 1960, PSYCHO? And why,
instead of reinterpreting it, did he actually recreate the film
shot-by-shot with precisely the same timing and camera angles. He even
arranged for his crew to shoot it on the same six-week schedule that
Van Sant has said that one of his motivations was to get inside the head
of the great director, which presumably he now has.
The question is why -- other than curiosity -- would audiences want to
see it? It is here that Van Sant provides no answers.
Whereas the original was fascinating and shocking, the reconstruction is
bland and lifeless. The reconstruction could easily be summarized in a
single word -- tedious.
The original movie starred Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the motel
manager from Hell and Janet Leigh as the larcenous Marion Crane, his
victim. The reconstruction is well cast but not well acted.
Vince Vaughn isn't particularly creepy as Norman Bates. He was much
better as a psycho earlier this year in CLAY PIGEONS.
The normally emotive Anne Heche plays Marion Crane with facial
expressions that border on blank slates. Heche delivers probably the
weakest performance of her career.
To be fair, both actors may just have been following the director's
instructions, but it is truly a shame to see such talent wasted.
And they aren't the only excellent actors to appear in the film. Also
on hand are Julianne Moore as Marion's sister, Viggo Mortensen as
Marion's boyfriend, William H. Macy as the private detective and Philip
Baker Hall as the sheriff.
Are there ANY differences? Well, not many other than the obvious one of
a switch to color from the black-and-white original. There are a few
modest changes, but I'll let you discover them. Keeping your eye out
for them is one of the few ways to pass the time while waiting for the
movie to end.
One particularly infuriating semi-change is that the director can't make
up his mind on the time period. He starts the movie by giving the year
as 1998, but he constantly confuses things by putting in ridiculous
looking take-offs on 1960s clothing and making the sets an eclectic
mixture of the two periods.
Van Sant drains all of the lifeblood out of the story, just like Norman
did on the animals in his taxidermy collection. The result is just as
strange. Why one would want to see either dead animals or a dead movie
is the mystery.
PSYCHO runs 1:45. It is rated R for violence, nudity and sex and would
be fine for teenagers.
Copyright © 1998 Steve Rhodes