Psycho is back in cinemas for a limited time from May 27th 2022.
Psycho is one of the greatest horror films ever made; it’s a simple but accurate statement. Psycho sparked a revolution in the horror genre that continues to be felt and seen today. It gave birth to a new style of suspense while playing with its audience’s psychological connection to the unfolding horror on screen. Following North by Northwest, Psycho would contain all of Hitchcock’s trademark elements. Yet, it also felt far removed from the technicolour of North by Northwest and Vertigo as Hitchcock painted his psychological thriller in black, grey and vivid white.
In an era when discussions of sexuality and sexual identity were still taboo, Hitchcock would lace Psycho with a series of provocative themes and subtext, challenging societal norms and sparking conversations about sexual repression, deviance, and identity. His muse was a young, delicate killer who sat in the shadows, his mental state one of internal division, loneliness and a desperate need for control.
Through Norman, Hitchcock would break the horror mould by embracing several controversial and groundbreaking themes while blurring the lines between perpetrator and victim. The audience was encouraged to feel empathy, pity and even love for the insecure and damaged Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) – a young man held hostage by the passing of his controlling and dominant mother. Throughout Psycho, Norman screams for release from his mother’s grip but is equally afraid to enter the world without her security. This complex psychological battle is bound by Norman’s sexuality and desires and a claustrophobic sense of enforced seclusion. Here Anthony Perkins gives us a nuanced portrait of a childhood gone wrong as two personalities struggle for dominance and freedom; a damaged and lonely serial killer who carries a gentle smile, not an evil glare.
Meanwhile, Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, is a sexually liberated woman who defies the social norms of late 1950s and early 60s cinema. She engages in an extramarital affair, steals money and pursues her need for freedom and pleasure. In many ways, Norman and Marion are two sides of the same coin, one repressed and the other free. Here Psycho’s exploration of sexuality, freedom, repression and denial was truly groundbreaking as it gave birth to a new era of horrors and psychological thrillers.