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Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho Movie Analysis

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Psycho is based on the novel with the same title which was written by Robert Block in 1959. Psycho (1960), was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. He was known for his ideas for making mysterious and horror films. Psycho is the sort of brilliant movie you’d expect from a young hotshot at the beginning of his career. But Hitchcock was 61, known for classy and elegant films with high production values, and he was reaching what many saw as the end of an illustrious career. Yet Psycho gave Hitchcock a leap to further greatness. This film is a suspense horror film which was a hit at its release. This movie left the audience in shock and some of them mentally disturbed. The movie begins with the credits and the sound. During the credits is a very loud and creaking sound which gives the audience an idea that the movie is going to be scary and it’s not any other normal movie.

This movie revolves around two main characters, Marion Crane (secretory) and Norman Bates (Owner of Bates motel). The movie begins with camera showing the audience a view of the city of Phoenix in Arizona and the shot is a high angle shot. The sound and the camera that pans over the window that is half closed shows that something suspicious is going to happen. Marion Crane works in an office and her office employee’s client gives her 40,000$ cash to deposit in his bank account. But her intentions are different. At that period, 40,000$ was considered to be a lot of money. Marion is lonely and wanted to start a new life. She instead of depositing the cash, decides to run away with it and start a new life. While she is driving out of the town with all her stuff, she imagines many scenarios as to what would be happening back in her town and how would people react to her running away with all the money. She encounters a cop on the road and hence decides to trade her car for another one so that no one knows where she is. At that very night, it rains heavily and she has to stop somewhere. She sees a motel named Bates Motel and decides to spend the night there. The motel set is a very spooky place and there is a house which looks like an old haunted house next to the motel which is owned by Norman Bates. When Marion is hungry, Norman brings dinner for her and they sit in his office to eat. The office has a lot of stuffed birds placed which makes the audience think that Norman might turn out to be evil and the doubt increases when Norman acts creepy in front of Marion and the conversation between Norman and Marion becomes uncomfortable.

When Marion goes back to her room is when the most famous murder scene occurs. This murder scene takes place in the shower and this murder scene has changed the history of cinema. When Marion enters the shower, everything is shown to be normal as if the place were pure and while she is in the shower the camera moves in different angles and then at one angle it stops and suddenly a person who is viewed as a shadow enters from behind. In this particular scene the audience know what is behind but Marion does not and hence it scares the audience and makes them wonder what will happen next. The audience in this scene can feel how helpless Marion is and there is no one out there who can help her to escape from there. Hitchcock was known to be famous for using these kind of suspense sequences in order to scare his audience. The entire time the man is there to kill Marion, there is a sound of steel clanging which just makes the scene even more spooky. The murder ends with a close up shot in which blood is flowing out from her body which is drained, is being showcased. From the shower scene, the audiences believes that Norman Bates’s mother killed Marion. The sound of the knife while stabbing Marion was actually the sound of stabbing a watermelon and this added an extra impact and made the scene even more dramatic. There is another interesting aspect of the movie Psycho, that the movie was shot in black and white, and since the murder scene could not be shown in colour, there was a lot of blood draining and the censor board would not have accepted that. We see Norman takes the body, clean the room and dumps the body in a car and then pushes the car into a river. This enables the audience to believe that Norman is very creepy.

When she is murdered and no one hears from her, her sister hires a detective to find out what is happening. When the detective finds out that Marion stayed at that motel, he decides to pay a visit. The detective has a huge doubt on Norman and believes that something definitely had happened in the Motel. He even enters the house next to the motel. When he is investigating the house, he is murdered too. After discovering that the detective has not returned back Marion’s sister and her boyfriend Sam decide to go to the motel and stay there a regular customer as a couple. They try to distract Norman and Marion’s sister enters his house and finds an old lady’s corpse which is Norman Bate’s mother’s corpse in one of the rooms. Norman is charged of murder of Marion and also the murder of the detective. In the prison, the doctors find out that he has some mental illness and his dead mother gives him instructions to kill people. When Norman is in jail he is shown as a villain with facial expressions on his face that shows the evilness of his character and that he is not guilty of what he did, and in fact he was truly a psycho man. The movie ends with the last scene where we see the car carrying Marion’s dead body emerging out of the water.

Hitchcock uses close up shots of the eyes to show the emotions and the nature of the character so that the audience could actually feel it. These eye shots are the key shots of the film and the eye with close up is a perfect way to show the goal for violence act. For example after the murder, when we see the blood draining into the drain of the tub, the drain transforms into the eye of the victim, who is lying dead on the bathroom floor.

Hitchcock also uses high and low angle shots to ramp up the suspense. When the detective is searching the house the shot is taken from an low angle which helps the audience to relate to the detective and it seems as if we are walking with the detective to discover what is there upstairs. At this point the audience does not know what is going to happen and hence the audience is as scared as the detective is. Then when the murderer kills the detective and the detective falls off the stairs, the shot is taken from a high angle which portraits that the murderer is superior and has done some evil deeds.

The interesting part of the movie and an interesting technique that Hitchcock has used is that the audience knows who killed Marion and the detective before the characters in the story know it. This leaves the audience to be scared for Marion’s sister and her boyfriend since they are scared that the murderer would kill them as well. This is a very good technique to leave the audience in suspense as to what would happen to them and whether they would die as well. When the audience gets to know that Norman’s mother does not actually exist and Norman has split personality and dresses up like his mom they are left in great shock since none of them actually saw this coming.

Psycho was considered to be one of the most scary psychological horror film at that time and since it became so famous , it also had its sequel Psycho 2 released. Even in this generation, psycho leaves lot of effect on the audiences watching it. The movie became so famous that now there is a Netflix series “ Bates Motel “ which is based on what happens in Normans life before the Psycho.

Overall, according to me Hitchcock did an amazing work and used different techniques for sound , camera and lighting. His story line was quite interesting and since he was able to do such an amazing job by increasing the suspense, it gained the audiences interest and left them in awe.

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