CinemaCl🎃wn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Immortal for its contribution to cinema, notorious for pushing the boundaries of what's accepted in mainstream films, and setting an extremely high benchmark for horror films to follow, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho remains the most influential, successful & famous work of his legendary career, and is rightfully hailed as one of the greatest achievements in the history of filmmaking.
The story concerns Marion Crane, a secretary working at a real estate office who is entrusted with $40,000 in cash to be deposited in the bank but ends up absconding with it in order to start a new life. Caught in heavy rain and tired after a long drive, she pulls over to spend the night at Bates Motel whose owner-manager seems to be very much under the dominion of his mother.
Throughout his career, director Alfred Hitchcock has enriched the world of cinema with some truly groundbreaking thrillers & despite that, Psycho feels like something of a first from him. It's his first stint with the genre of horror, it breaks through the barriers of censorship unlike any film before and over the years, it has played a major role in influencing not only films but pop-culture as well.
The screenplay is a gem in itself, for the plot is cleverly curated by Joseph Stefano and also features several memorable quotes. Filmed on a modest budget, the black-n-white cinematography only ends up working in the film's favour whereas excellent use of sharp focus, smooth tracking shots & meticulous detailing help capture the unfolding events with clarity while also providing an ageless appeal to the whole picture.
Coming to the performances, the film features a reliable cast amongst which Janet Leigh & Anthony Perkins end up impressing the most. While Leigh beautifully captures the guilty side of Marion, Perkins as Bates is show-stealing considering that he starts out pretty calmly but steadily levels it up as the story progresses and is absolutely chilling in the film's final moment.
Editing is also worthy of mention, for it paces & streamlines the plot ingeniously and certainly stands out in what happens to be the film's most (in)famous sequence. And yet, the biggest contribution of all comes from Bernard Herrmann's spectacularly terrifying score that makes its presence felt from the beginning and ends up intensifying the overall cinematic experience by a considerable extent.
On an overall scale, with its tense atmosphere that looms over the plot from start to finish, outstanding direction, tight screenplay, excellent performances, stunning grayscale photography, smart editing & relentless score, Psycho is a breathtaking work of perfection that marks the creative height of Alfred Hitchcock's glorious film career and not only is it the most influential example of its genre but is pretty much the reason why modern horror exists in the first place.