Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1998
Directed by
Gus Van Sant
108 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Psycho (1998)

One regularly comes across despairing references to Gus Van Sant's "frame-by-frame" remake of Hitchcock's Psycho. I'm not quite sure why. For a start, although close, it's not frame-by-frame (Werner Herzog's remake of the original Nosferatu is a better example of that) and it's not bad, indeed as it re-cycles Joseph Stefano's screenplay, Bernard Herrmann's score, and Saul Bass' title design, it is probably a lot better, particularly as this would have meant more blood and gore) than had the makers attempted a full-on re-interpretation as with most re-makes. Yet as much as the film stays faithful to the original the film nevertheless has its own 90s sensibility 

Van Sant is an established indie film maker who had had mainstream success with Good Will Hunting (1997) so one is more disposed to look for some kind of intellectual conceit here than had it been made by some studio hack, There is, however, no discernible attempt to turn it to his aesthetic cause (imagine if David Lynch had made it). Other than an updating in small points (the embezzled sum is now $400K rather than $40k and Bates's voyeurism is accompanied by masturbation for example whilst Mortensen's cowboy boyfriend is much more forward with Moore's Lylah) this is a straightforward remake presumably (its was so marketed) aimed at a younger audience unable to sustain a black-and-white film. 

Given that most of the main ingredients of the black and white original are carried over (the unremarkable cinematography is, surprisingly, by Chris Doyle) whatever shortcomings, these are a function of the original although that film's weakest aspect, the quasi-Freudian wrap-up is wisely shortened here  Anne Heche is not as effective as Janet Leigh in the Marion Crane role (which is understandable as she is playing Janet Leigh playing MArion Crane) and if Vince Vaughn is never going to eclipse Anthony Perkins' Norman Bates, at least he doesn't try to and the against-type casting gives the film a small additional frisson of appeal. Whether it stands alone is another matter but regarded as a companion piece to Hitchcock's original it is an interesting film.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst