Psycho

1998

Psycho

Critics Consensus

Van Sant's pointless remake neither improves nor illuminates Hitchcock's original.

38%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 78

28%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 68,288
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Movie Info

Marion Crane is a Phoenix, Arizona working girl fed up with having to sneak away during lunch breaks to meet her lover, Sam Loomis, who cannot get married because most of his money goes towards alimony. One Friday, Marion's employer asks her to take $400,000 in cash to a local bank for deposit. Desperate to make a change in her life, she impulsively leaves town with the money, determined to start a new life with Sam in California. As night falls and a torrential rain obscures the road ahead of her, Marion turns off the main highway. Exhausted from the long drive and the stress of her criminal act, she decides to spend the night at the desolate Bates Motel. The motel is run by Norman Bates, a peculiar young man dominated by his invalid mother. After Norman fixes her a light dinner, Marion goes back to her room for a shower....

Cast

Anne Heche
as Marion Crane
Vince Vaughn
as Norman Bates
Viggo Mortensen
as Sam Loomis
William H. Macy
as Milton Arbogast
Julianne Moore
as Lila Crane
Robert Forster
as Dr. Simon
Chad Everett
as Tom Cassidy
Rance Howard
as Mr. Lowry
Philip Baker Hall
as Sheriff Chambers
Anne Haney
as Mrs. Chambers
Rita Wilson
as Caroline
James Remar
as Patrolman
James Le Gros
as Car Dealer
O.B. Babbs
as Mechanic
Flea
as Bob Summerfield
Marjorie Lovett
as Woman Customer
Ryan Cutrona
as Chief of Police
Ken Jenkins
as District Attorney
Roy Brocksmith
as Alfred Hitchcock (uncredited)
View All

Critic Reviews for Psycho

All Critics (78) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (48)

  • a true labour of love, an homage in such deliriously infatuated thrall to its inspiration that it seems more arthouse folly than studio cashcow - or, to cite the psychiatrist near the end of Psycho, "these were crimes of passion, not profit."

    Oct 22, 2012
  • Contains nothing to outrage or offend partisans of the original, yet neither does it stand to add much to their appreciation.

    Mar 26, 2009
  • Hitchcock probably wouldn't tell this story if he was making films today, and he certainly wouldn't tell it this way, with internal 'voices', back projection, minimal nudity and violence.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The film is polished when it should be edgy and impersonal when it should be seductive.

    Jan 1, 2000
  • A lot less scary!

    Jan 1, 2000
  • Van Sant has cranked up the realism about 20 points, but somehow what he achieves for the effort is a larger sense of banality!

    Jan 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for Psycho

  • Feb 23, 2019
    Lovers of Hitchcock might get a kick out of seeing this almost identical shot-by-shot remake of the original horror classic. Despite the facsimile, the film feels like a forgery.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • Jul 21, 2015
    Say what you will, I think this shot for shot homage to the original is in a (very, very small, minute, almost infinitesimal) handful of ways SUPERIOR to the original. Vince Vaughn's portrayal of Norman Bates, if you're able to get past the actor's typecasting, is spot-on and immensely entertaining. The shots are all here, but the subtle nods and brief fourth wall breaking homages to the original make this film unique, and I actually enjoy it.
    Paris S Super Reviewer
  • May 27, 2014
    Marion Crane must have stole way more than $400,000, from the box office, that is, because I'd imagine plenty of people were expecting this film to make big money, you know, up until they saw the cast. No matter how startlingly faithful, a remake of a critical hit has to figure out some way to tick people off, and sure enough, whoever thought to cast Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates as Norman Bates must be a psycho... is something that I would expect to be said by someone who didn't see "Clay Pigeons" the same year this film came out. Well, actually, I'm probably the only guy who thought that Vaughn was awesome in that film, but either way, the point is that they could have gotten a worse person to play an iconic serial murderer. Shoot, looking at how much Vaughn's Lester Long character was obsessed with Joaquin Phoenix's Clay Bidwell character, I'm thinking that he was trying to cover something up with his womanizing, and that this is both a continuation of "Clay Pigeons" and of Gus Van Sant's efforts to innovate gay drama filmmaking. Oh, if only this film was that much of a departure from the themes of its source material, but this remake is so overtly close to the original "Psycho" that Van Sant had the audacity to even make a crowbarred cameo at the same point in the story in which Alfred Hitchcock made a crowbarred cameo. You know, come to think of it, forget Vaughn, because I'm wondering how the guy who did "Good Will Hunting", of all people, ended up being the one to remake "Psycho", but don't worry people, because the only big difference between this production and the original is the fact that, instead of the woman playing Marion Crane, the director was probably flirting with Viggo Mortensen... something that I probably can't blame him too much on (Hey, comparing him to Vince Vaughn, just try to ignore the good lucks). Well, that's a distinction, as is this film's being by no means as good as the original, for a couple reasons. Even if you take out of account this film's sticking a little too close to its original, or if you actually take into account how many films since the original have stuck to its tropes, this particular thriller is mighty lacking in originality, falling into convention after convention and molding, even for that, like, one guy who isn't familiar with this narrative, a predictable path that isn't even tight. This film isn't about five minutes shorter than the original, but then again, if the original did outstay its welcome, it wasn't by only five minutes, thus, this film has a tendency to drag its feet, particularly with a first half that, like the original, is too distinct from the second in character focus for the transition to feel organic, exacerbating a sense of aimlessness. Really, the sheer dragging, only occasionally accompanied by atmospheric dry spells, proves to be rather detrimental to the momentum of this film, but probably not much more than it was to the momentum of the original, whose quality wouldn't define this film's so much if, well, this film didn't obviously want you to draw comparisons. I have a certain admiration to this film for having so much respect for its source material, and for simply being unique in its degree of faithfulness, but really, this remake is plain and simple too much like the original, and while that would leave you to figure that this film is about the same quality as its rewarding source material, the faithfulness actually holds some of a lazy quality. There's something bland about the lack of liberalism to this revisiting of Alfred Hitchcock's classic, and when liberties are taken to try and bring this subject matter closer to the modern horror industry that its source material actually heavily influenced, the modernist audacity clashes with the old-fashioned flavors in a way that begets tonal unevenness, maybe even something of a cheesy feel. This film is both overambitious and safe, and that's not a very good combination if you aim to do justice to such worthy subject matter, ultimately given enough respect for a decent effort to be crafted, but not with the sense of uniqueness, tightness and consistency that carried the original so far. This particular film is ultimately too bland to stand a chance of transcending underwhelmingness, but its roots are worthy, and a celebration of such roots makes it hard to dislike this endeavor, particularly when it works to at least impress stylistically. While one might be a little excited to see this film brought to the wonderful world of color, the intentional black-and-white palette of the original not only better defined the subject matter's bleak tone, but was backed by a slightly sharper filming style, and yet, partly because it's so faithful to the filming of its original, this film's visual style is pretty slick, with well-polished highlights to Christopher Doyle's cinematography that add to the visual style, just as Danny Elfman's cleaner, more modernist adaptation of Bernard Herrmann's legendary score adds to the biting musical style of the original. Well, the slight stylistic adjustments only slightly add to the original's aesthetic value, if they do at all, but the fact of the matter is that there is some sharp style here to, just as it did in the original, breathe some life into some worthy subject matter. While it's gotten to be overexplored enough over the years by films that weren't note-for-note, if not shot-for-shot homages, this story dealing with a hunt for a troubled woman that eventually leads to a hunt for a disturbed man is still pretty compelling, and the classic script by Joseph Stefano, while losing a bit of juice in the process of being recycled with little uniqueness, is still gutsy in a lot of ways, particularly with its well-rounded drawing of memorable characters. Quite frankly, the characters are done about as much justice as anything in this film, thanks to a solid, if questionably selected cast of talents who prove to be worthy fillers of worthy shoes, particularly, of all people, Vince Vaughn, for although Vaughn doesn't retain that impeccable mixture of thorough charisma and chilling intensity which made the Lester Long character of "Clay Pigeons" so effective to compensate for his simply not being quite as dramatically realized as Anthony Perkins, he captures the iconic Norman Bates character's nervous instability enough to sell the chilling presence of such an iconic antagonist. Not even the performances in this film are quite as sharp as they were in 1960, yet they're still about as consistent as anything in driving the engagement value of this thriller, which isn't to say that there isn't a certain offscreen performance that also does a lot to endear. No matter how hard Gus Van Sant works to emulate Alfred Hitchcock, horror just simply isn't his game, so even without the blandness of conventionalism, this film was never to stand a chance of being as effective as the original, yet Van Sant is still a talented storyteller, thus, when he hits, he hits reasonably hard with establishing chills which punctuate a consistent degree of entertainment value. No matter how much the film may be blanded up by questionable pacing and wholly derivative storytelling, it's plenty entertaining, if nothing else, and when entertainment value goes matched with effectiveness, the final product is left to emerge as pretty decent, if improvable. In the end, the film falls into too many tropes, too many draggy spells and focal inconsistencies, and too deeply into its source material, only with a few modernist beats that unevenly clash with some of the more old-fashioned attributes to transcend underwhelmingness which thrives on blandness, yet there is still enough appeal to the style, writing, acting - particularly by Vince Vaughn - and direction to make Gus Van Sant's "Psycho" an entertaining and sometimes effective revisiting of a classic thriller, despite boasting much in the way of unrealized potential. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 01, 2013
    Perhaps the most literal remake ever made, director Gus Van Sant delivers a shot-by-shot remake of Psycho. It's not an exact copy, but it's fairly close. Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, and Viggo Mortensen form a solid cast, but their performances are a little odd and unnatural. Something about the filmmaking style clashes with the modern setting, and the film seems somewhat self-aware of what it's doing. Still, the storytelling still works and creates a compelling mystery with interesting characters. While Gus Van Sant's remake doesn't recapture the brilliance of the original Psycho, the power and allure of the material still comes through.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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