PSYCHO: THE RE-MAKE. (1998) BASED ON THE BOOK BY ROBERT BLOCH AND THE 1960 FILM BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK.
DIRECTED BY GUS VAN SANT. SCREENPLAY BY JOSEPH STEFANO. MUSIC BY BERNARD HERRMANN, DANNY ELFMAN AND STEVE BARTEK.
STARRING ANNE HECHE, VINCE VAUGHN, VIGGO MORTENSEN, JULIANNE MOORE, RITA WILSON AND WILLIAM H. MACY.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
I wasn’t expecting to like this more or less scene-for-scene re-make of Alfred Hitchcock’s magnificent, disturbing and ground-breaking horror picture of 1960, but as it turned out, I really enjoyed it. While still acknowledging, naturally, that it isn’t and never could be as good as the original masterpiece which inspired it. Now that we’ve got that little disclaimer out of the way, lol, we can get down to appreciating PSYCHO: THE RE-MAKE for what it is; a film in its own right.
Anne Heche, an actress who co-starred in genuinely the worst film I’ve ever seen in my life, CATFIGHT with Sandra Oh in 2016, is actually pretty good as Marion Crane, the woman who steals $400,000 dollars from her boss with the intention of starting a new life with her currently impoverished hardware store owner boyfriend, Sam Loomis.
She plays Marion as a sweeter, softer person than the Marion played by Janet Leigh in 1960. That Janet was a bit cold, a bit self-righteous, a bit judgemental. Marion in the re-make is just softer all round, a bit less sure of herself, maybe even (Heresy! Heresy!) a bit more likeable.
Vince Vaughn, the beefcake actor whom you’re probably more used to seeing in throwaway comedies such as OLD SCHOOL, DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY, WEDDING CRASHERS and FRED CLAUS, is surprisingly good as Norman Bates, the sexually deviant and mentally deranged motel owner who takes a murderous shine to Marion Crane as she flees from her old life.
He’s got the sweetie-guzzling thing going on, he defends his abusive mother to the hilt and won’t hear of having her put away ‘someplace,’ and he’s no match for the clever questioning of William H. Macy as the private dick with the greatest name ever dreamed up by a writer, Milton Arbogast.
The character of Milton Arbogast here is just perfect, although he reminds me of no-one so much as Lyle Lanley, the character from THE SIMPSONS who brings the ill-fated Monorail to Springfield.
‘I’ll show you my idea. I give you the Springfield Monorail! I’ve sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and, by gum, it put them on the map! Well, sir, there’s nothin’ on Earth like a genuine bona-fide electrified six-car monorail!’ He’s even got the hat-flipping down to a T, and his death (come on, it’s a sixty year old film, if you haven’t seen it by now, it’s not my fault, lol!) is very well done, and reverently reminiscent of the way Hitchcock did it in 1960.
I love that the film, even though it’s set in 1998, still manages to keep the worst excesses of the modern world and modern technology at bay for the viewer. No-one’s yakking away on a cellphone, for one thing, for which I was immensely grateful. The colours are the lovely pink and blue pastels of a softer, gentler era and the clothes everyone’s wearing all have such a retro ‘Sixties vibe that we could actually be in that era and not modern times.
The only harsh, jarring note here is, sadly, Julianne Moore as Lila Crane, Marion’s sister who comes to Fairvale to look for her after she hops it with the money. I say ‘sadly’ because I do really like Julianne Moore as an actress. However, here she plays Lila all wrong.
She plays her too tough, too militant, too shouty, too raving feminist. She plays her like she plays FBI Agent Clarice Starling in HANNIBAL in 2001, like she’s a cop on a drugs raid and she’s taking no bullshit from her suspects.
She strides into a place as if she should be pointing a gun into it ahead of herself, and even her clothes are wrong. They’re too bloody moderns, as Mr. Khan says in EAST IS EAST (1999).
Lila Crane is not a ball-breaking FBI agent. She’s a woman who would look and dress and speak similarly to her missing sister. Julianne Moore’s Lila Crane looks like she should be wearing combats, rolling across a floor pointing a gun and screaming ‘Freeze, motherfuckers!’ at a den of Colombian druglords. It’s the one false note in a film that otherwise succeeds quite well in creating a world that blurs the lines between the ‘Sixties of Hitchcock’s film and modern times.
I loved the highway-cop-with-the-sunglasses bit. He’s almost identical to the cop from the original film. Mumbly Viggo Mortensen as Marion’s lover, Sam Loomis, doesn’t contribute much besides a gratuitous butt-shot, and Old Mother Bates was never a blonde bombshell, but other than that and the Julianne Moore thing, and the fact that the famous shower scene was possibly less impactful, I’ve no complaints about the film, lol. It received mostly negative reviews, but I enjoyed watching it, so there. Give it a whirl if you haven’t already seen it. You might enjoy it.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.