by Ryan Arthur
Completely unnecessary and not the least bit satisfying.Why is it that the new Psycho, in all its glorious color, is just so bland?
"A boy's best friend is his mother. Or a peephole and a hand."
Maybe it's because for all the trumpeting of how it's a shot-for-shot recreation of the original (and it is, I guess), it doesn't make it a better film, or even more accessible to a younger audience (one of the reasons for the experiment, according to the filmmakers). If anything, it'll make younger audiences restless.
Perhaps in the desire to build the hype (it is a Hollywood movie), to take away the advance screenings, to treat the thing with such reverence, the filmmakers were setting themselves up for a fall. A bad idea from its inception, a Psycho remake was basically doomed from the start.
The movie could've worked. Could've. I'm not sure how, exactly - I'm a writer, not a filmmaker - but in it's current form, it doesn't. I doubt we'll be seeing a recreation of director Gus Van Sant's recreation 40 years from now.
If you've seen the original, you know the drill about the plot. If you haven't, then hey, I won't spoil it for you. I myself have never seen the whole thing in one sitting. It's all been bits and pieces of multiple viewings. Rest assured, though, I'm renting that puppy tonight.
So that leaves us with a comparison between the two, as all reviews of this film will end up being, anyway. Van Sant's Psycho is fairly faithful (with a few exceptions)in shots and pacing, but one wonders if the film would've been better had there been more deviation.
Among the obvious differences: Norman (Vince Vaughn) gets jiggy with himself when peeping on Marion (Anne Heche), including slapping sounds (there'd be nothing weirder than being the foley artist responsible for masturbation sound effects, I'd think); a couple weird inserts (sheep?) when a character is killed off; and a bit more nudity (as director Kevin Smith mentions on his View Askew website, "You can just about make out Anne Heche's asshole" in the shower scene) and blood.
Van Sant's Psycho plays like a student film, an experiment more than a reverential homage. By following Hitchcock's lead, the new Psycho is tedious, and, dare I say it, boring. Perhaps it'd be more interesting had it veered off on some tangent, but then critics would have been even more harsh.
Among the cast, Vaughn, quite simply, is no Anthony Perkins. To his credit, he doesn't ape Perkins completely, but he draws inevitable comparisons to him (it'd be difficult not to, with such a great performance). The neervous giggle/laugh seems a bit forced. Heche is merely adequate as Marion Crane. She's always been attractive (though somewhat blank) to me, but here she seemed slightly out of place (what was up with that orange dress?), as did Viggo Mortensen, who plays Marion's lover Sam a little bit weirder than John Gavin did in the original.
I did like William H. Macy as the private detective, Arbogast (because he's William H. Macy, for crying out loud), and Rita Wilson, who plays Caroline the secretary, was a hoot. Yet it's not enough.
Does the new Psycho accomplish what people wanted? I guess it will depend on who you ask. I left the theater asking why they felt the need to do it. I wanted Van Sant to just go off, to take the story and make it his own, go off on some strange subplot, anything. But he didn't, and ultimately it hurt the film far more than it helped.I, for one, expected Vince Vaughn to break character and scream out "My mother is sooooooo fucking money!" It might have made his performance better.
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originally posted: 12/07/98 10:11:01