1998; Rated R; 96 Minutes
Vince Vaughn: Norman Bates
Julianne Moore: Lila Crane
Viggo Mortensen: Sam Loomis
William H. Macy: Milton Arbagast
Phillip Baker Hall: Sherrif Chambers
Anne Heche: Marion Crane
Produced by Brian
Grazer, Gus Van Sant and Dany Wolf; Directed by Gus
Van Sant; Screenwritten by Joseph Stefano
by DAVID KEYES
Gus Van Sant: you've stated time and time again that your
long-awaited remake of Hitchcock's "Psycho" would be worth
the wait. You've claimed over the past year that it's a
shot-by-shot remake, purposely made to 'honor' the master
of horror. You've said that the movie is strictly made on
the original script, simply because you feel it's time to
make use of the 'technology' in such a movie that was simply
not available at Hitchcock's time. Buttock shots, frontal
nudity, severe stab wounds, pools of blood--most of these
things couldn't have possibly made it past the censors in
1960. Now that every other movie in theaters today makes
use of one of these characteristics, you say this is a good
opportunity to update the movie as "it was meant to be":
More blood, more gore, more nudity, and heck, even more
your movie has arrived. This gives you an opportunity to
try and impress me: do anything you can to make me see that
this 'update' was needed. Scare me, impress me, tantalize
me, psyche me. Do everything you said you would; prove to
me and to the world that this remake was worth the wait.
Can you live up to that?
what's this? I sense some hesitation! Oh, you've indeed
made your remake on the same script as Hitchcock's movie,
but you neglected just one teensy weensy thing: the shock;
the horror, and the element of surprise that worked so well
in the older, black and white version. Everything else is
there (including that mysterious, intriguing story about
Bates and his mother), but it's not scary or even tantalizing.
You put all your eggs into one basket for this one. Not
many of them hatched.
it's because your approach is wrong. No wait--maybe the
whole idea is wrong! If you expect to remake a movie, make
one that can be improved upon. Hitchcock's film, you must
admit, was one of those special, flawless masterpieces that
did not deserve to be touched by others. "Psycho" belongs
to the master of suspense, and the master of suspense only.
If he had wanted it done better, he would have told you.
Then again, he's no longer with us; maybe you should take
the advice of leaving a dead man's great films alone.
what's with all that blood? Do you call it an "improvement"
to add more blood in that shower scene than the normal human
body carries? Heck, I find it downright impossible for a
woman like Anne Heche to survive for a few split seconds
after she's been stabbed numerous times with all that missing
blood in her body. In fact, I'm surprised she didn't collapse
and die right on the spot, instead of hanging on just long
enough for us to see her suffering.
speaking of suffering, let us talk about that ridiculous
opening scene where Marion Crane and Sam Loomis get dressed
from their ongoing affair. Viggo Mortensen is good to play
Loomis, but what's with the butt shot? Is this another one
of your 'improvements?' Or is that just a fast ploy to see
if any fans of the original movie were paying attention
and could tell the difference between scenes? I dunno about
you, Van Sant; you've made great movies like "My Own Private
Idaho" and "Good Will Hunting." Was a remake with a few
minor new 'improvements' really needed? Couldn't you have
used all this time to make another one of your great movies?
Or, are you running out of new ideas? If you call this a
new idea, then I'd be much obliged not to touch the subject
with a 40-foot pole.
you've gotta give credit to your Norman Bates. Vince Vaughn
is probably the best person you can get to fill Anthony
Perkins' shoes; he can be one of America's best film stars
one day, and that is evident in the way he treats his character
on screen. He smirks, tilts his head, lifts his eyebrow,
and speaks to Marion Crane like he knows her. I especially
like that one shot where he smiles and speaks Bates' most
famous line, "we all go a little mad some times." Judging
from the rest of the film, though, perhaps he was referring
as a film expert, this will teach you a valuable lesson.
You should have known that you couldn't have gotten away
with doing this movie, and judging by other reviews, you
really haven't. Promise me that the next time you decide
to remake something, you will take these words into consideration:
if you don't know the song, don't try to sing it.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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