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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Cutting Edge : Psycho (1960)

Fig 1 : Psycho Poster
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), a classic film that changed the horror genre for future generations and created the slasher genre. While people may be aware of the shower scene which caused controversy during it`s time, people forget the toilet flush scene which seemed to cause more uproar than the actual murder. Why? Maybe to create discomfort in the audience before the murder begins, to help the grimness of the murder sink in. Maybe also to make the audience feel discomfort and filthy by watching the scene and following the murder maybe this technique is used to make the audience feel partly as if they are part of the murder.

Continuing with the ingenious of Hitchcock’s use of camera and lighting, the atmosphere is compelling in this film where the audience can feel what the characters in the film are feeling. An example of this is where when Marion is escaping and gets interrogated by the police man. Immediately the audience is faced with this darkened face taking up the entire camera giving a
Fig 2 : Profile
sense of threat and no escape. Especially the added detail of glasses, there is no emotion seen which the policeman seem almost beast like due to the lack of anything shown on his face. Another example of this is when Sam is interrogating Norman. The camera drops to where we can only see Normans throat and Adams apple as his nervousness is shown through his speech. Not only that the only detail we can see if Normans quivering Adams apple emphasising the guilt and fear he feels. The audience doesn’t need to see his face due to the lack of emotion or masked emotion he showed before Marion was murdered.

When it comes to the reveal, although comical with Norman running into the scene and his wig falling off, the idea of multiple personality disorder begins to tie the film together as to why the audience doesn’t ever see the face of the killer nor the audience never sees the mother. When looking over the scene, the use of mental health being used as an excuse for murder makes the views of mental health back then clear. How mental health was seen as something not right in the brain and if you had mental health troubles you were crazy. 

“Hitchcock deliberately wanted "Psycho" to look like a cheap exploitation film. He shot it not with his usual expensive feature crew (which had just finished "North by Northwest") but with the crew he used for his television show.” (Ebert, 1998) While Hitchcock is considered a god with camera, his reasoning behind using  a  restricted set may be to make the film seem more authentic and home recorded  making the events what happen seem all the more real. Also the less people there and low budget make the set seem less perfect and worn down. Especially with the idea of a haunted house the setting isn`t going to be a perfect structure.   

Having such a big influence on the audience, Hitchcock ensures that every detail is set so the audience feels as if they are in the film and makes each scene as believable as possible. “Many viewers still insist that the blood running down the plughole after Marion's murder is
Fig 3 : Blood
bright red, but it is the power of their imaginations that makes the brown chocolate syrup seem so.”
(Kermode , 2010) .Despite the clear time difference between then and now, the audience cannot help but feel the same atmosphere as people did back then. Where the audience are teased by technical detail to enhance the atmosphere and strengthen the need to know who the killer is. Just as Hitchcock intends.  “The audience is similarly helpless in Hitchcock's "trap" – but you wouldn't have it any other way.” (Monahan, 2015)

Bibliography : 

Kermode,M(2010) Psycho : the best horror film of all time [Accessed 24/01/16] Monahan,M(2015) Psycho,review : [Accessed 24/01/16] Ebert , R (1998) Great Movie : Psycho : [Accessed 24/01/16]

Illustrations :

Fig 1 Psycho_1960 [Poster] [Accessed 24/01/16]

Fig 2 Profile [Screengrab] [Accessed 24/01/16]

Fig 3 Blood [Screengrab] [Accessed 24/01/16]

1 comment:

  1. Interesting review Sarah - good discussion around the techniques used to get the audience immersed in the action.

    Just check your bibliography - poor Roger Ebert has got tangled in with Mark Kermode's review :)