is a American horror film
produced and directed by Gus Van Sant
for Universal Pictures
, a remake of the
directed by Alfred Hitchcock
. Both films are
adapted from the novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, which were in turn inspired by
the crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein.
Although this version is in color, features a different cast, and
has been set in a contemporary
timeframe, it is closer to a shot-for-shot
than most remakes
, often copying
Hitchcock's camera movements and editing. Bernard Hermann
's musical score is reused as
well, though with a new arrangement by Danny Elfman
and recorded in stereo. Some
changes are introduced to account for advancements in technology
since the original film and to make the content more explicit.
Murder sequences are also intercut with surreal dream images.
In need of
money to get her boyfriend Sam Loomis (Viggo Mortensen) out of debt, Marion Crane
(Anne Heche) steals $400,000 from her
employer and flees Phoenix, Arizona by car. While on route to Sam's California home, she parks along the road to sleep.
highway patrol officer awakens her and, suspicious of her agitated
state, begins to follow her. When she trades her car for another
one at a dealership, he notes the new vehicle's details. Marion
returns to the road but, rather than drive in a heavy storm,
decides to spend the night at the Bates Motel.
Owner Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn
Marion he rarely has customers because of a new interstate nearby
and mentions he lives with his mother in the house overlooking the
motel. He invites Marion to have supper with him. She overhears
Norman arguing with his mother about letting Marion in the house,
and during the meal she angers him by suggesting he
institutionalize his mother. He admits he would like to do so, but
does not want to abandon her.
Marion resolves to return to Phoenix to return the money. After
calculating how she can repay the money she has spent, Marion dumps
her notes down the toilet and begins to shower. An anonymous female
figure enters the bathroom and stabs her to death. Finding the
corpse, Norman is horrified. He cleans the bathroom and places
Marion's body, wrapped in the shower curtain, and all her
possessions — including the money — in the trunk of her car and
sinks it in a nearby swamp.
Shortly afterward, Sam is contacted by both Marion's sister Lila
) and private
detective Milton Arbogast (William
), who has been hired by
Marion's employer to find her and recover the money. Arbogast
traces Marion to the motel and questions Norman, who unconvincingly
lies that Marion stayed for one night and left the following
morning. He refuses to let Arbogast talk to his mother, claiming
she is ill. Arbogast calls Lila to update her and tells her he will
contact her again within an hour after he questions Norman's
Arbogast enters Norman's house and at the top of the stairs is
attacked by a figure who slashes his face three times with a knife,
pushes him down the stairs, then stabs him to death. When Arbogast
does not call Lila, she and Sam contact the local police. Deputy
Sheriff Al Chambers (Philip Baker
) is perplexed to learn Arbogast saw a woman in a window,
since Norman's mother died ten years ago. Norman confronts his
mother and urges her to hide in the cellar. She rejects the idea
and orders him out of her room, but against her will Norman carries
her to the cellar.
Posing as a married couple, Sam and Lila check into the motel and
search Marion's room, where they find a scrap of paper in the
toilet with "$400,000" written on it. While Sam distracts Norman,
Lila sneaks into the house to search for his mother. Sam suggests
to Norman that he killed Marion for the money so he could buy a new
motel. Realizing Lila is not around, Norman knocks Sam unconscious
with a golf club and rushes to the house. Lila sees him and hides
in the cellar where she discovers the semi-preserved and mummified
body of Norman's mother. Wearing his
mother's clothes and a wig and carrying a knife, Norman enters and
tries to attack Lila, but she is rescued by Sam.
After Norman's arrest, forensic
Dr. Fred Richmond (Robert Forster
) tells Sam and Lila that
Norman's dead mother is living in Norman's psyche
as an alternate personality
After the death of Norman's father, the pair lived as if they were
the only people in the world. When his mother found a lover, Norman
went over the edge with jealousy and murdered both of them.
Consumed with guilt, he tried to "erase the crime" by bringing his
mother back to life in his mind. He stole her corpse and preserved
the body. When he is "Mother", he acts, talks, and dresses as she
would. Norman imagined his mother would be as jealous of a woman to
whom he might be attracted just as he was of his mother's lover,
and so "Mother" kills any woman he has feelings for; when Norman
regains consciousness, he believes that his mother has committed
the crime, and covers up for her. It is implied that Norman is
responsible for the unsolved disappearances of two young girls.
Richmond concludes that the "Mother" personality has now taken
complete control of Norman's mind.
In the final scene, Norman sits in a cell, thinking in "Mother's"
voice. In a voiceover, "Mother" explains that she plans to prove to
the authorities she is incapable of violence by refusing to swat a
fly that has landed on her hand. The final shot shows Marion's car
being recovered from the swamp, and then goes to end credits.
After the credits, we see the swamp again, except this time it
- Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates, the proprietor of the Bates Motel, who is dominated
by his reclusive "mother".
- Anne Heche as Marion Crane, a young woman who steals $400,000
in cash to start a new life with her boyfriend.
- Julianne Moore as Lila Crane, Marion's neurotic and concerned sister.
- Viggo Mortensen as Samuel "Sam"
Loomis, Marion's boyfriend. His relationship with Marion is under
stress due to his looming debts.
- William H. Macy as Milton Arbogast, a private detective hired to find Marion
after she vanishes.
- Robert Forster as Dr. Simon
Richmond, a psychiatrist.
- Philip Baker Hall as Sheriff
Al Chambers, the local sheriff who knows
- Anne Haney as Eliza Chambers, his
- Rance Howard as George Lowery,
- Chad Everett as Tom Cassidy, the
client from whom Marion steals the money.
- Rita Wilson as Caroline, Marion's
co-worker at the real estate
- James Remar as a highway
- James LeGros as Charlie, a used car
- Flea as Bob Summerfield, Sam's
assistant at the hardware store.
Director Gus Van Sant
of making cameo appearances
in his films, appears as "Man
talking to man in cowboy hat" at the same point in his film when
Hitchcock made his appearance in the original. According to the
track that featured
Van Sant, Vaughn, and Heche, Van Sant's character is being scolded
by Hitchcock in the scene.
The audio commentary
accompanies the DVD release of the film, and the "making-of"
documentary (Psycho Path
) that the DVD includes, provide
numerous details about where the film strived to remain faithful to
the original, and where it diverged. Some changes are pervasive: as
the film opens, it is made clear that it is set in the late 1990s,
so minor changes are made throughout the dialogue to reflect the
new timeframe. For example, all the references to money are updated
(how much Marion Crane steals, how much a car costs, how much a
hotel room costs), as are references to terms from the original
script like "aspic
" that would seem anachronistic
in the new setting. According to
Van Sant, in the original the only fully-fleshed out character was
; the other major
characters were more iconic, purposely written and portrayed to
advance the plot; Van Sant relied upon his main cast more to flesh
out and make consistent their character's motivations and worked
with them to determine to what degree their characters were similar
to the originals. According to the commentary by Van Sant, Vaughn,
and Heche, some actors, such as William H. Macy, chose to stay true
to the original, while others, such as Vaughn and Julianne Moore,
interpreted the dialogue and scenes from the original film
differently; Moore's version of Lila Crane, for example, was much
more aggressive than the one portrayed by Vera Miles
, and there are differences in Marion
Crane's evolving attitudes about the money she stole. The cinematography
and the cinematic techniques
between the two films in many of the film's most memorable scenes,
including the shower scene, scenes of the mother, scenes of the
swamp, and the scene of Arbogast on the staircase, but other scenes
changed significantly, particularly the climax, and the Dr. Simon
monologue at the end, which was much shorter. Van Sant's comments
from the commentary track attributes many of the updates to the
need to make the film more accessible to a new audience.
The film earned $37,141,130 million in box office, $21,456,130 of
which came from North America. Estimates of the production budget
range from $20 million to $60 million; while promoting his 2002
, Van Sant said he
thought the producers "broke even" financially.
This version of Psycho
received mostly negative reviews;
it was awarded two Golden
, for Worst
Remake or Sequel
and Worst Director
Van Sant, while Anne Heche was nominated as Worst Actress.
A number of critics and writers viewed Van Sant's version more as
an actual experiment in shot-for-shot
remakes. Many people refer to this film as more of a duplicate of
the 1960 film
rather than a
remake. Film critic Roger Ebert
that the film "demonstrates that a shot-by-shot remake is
pointless; genius apparently resides between or beneath the shots,
or in chemistry that cannot be timed or counted." Screenwriter
, who worked on the
1960 version, thought that although she spoke the same lines, Anne
Heche portrays Marion Crane as an entirely different character.
Even Van Sant admitted that it was an experiment that proved that
no one can really copy a film exactly the same way as the
One positive review came from Janet
, who called the film an "artful, good-looking remake (a
modest term, but it beats plagiarism) that shrewdly revitalizes the
aspects of the real Psycho
(1960) that it follows most
faithfully but seldom diverges seriously or successfully from one
of the cinema's most brilliant blueprints"; she noted that the
"absence of anything like Anthony
's sensational performance with that vitally birdlike
presence and sneaky way with a double-entendre
("A boy's best friend is his
mother") is the new film's greatest weakness."
The film's soundtrack, Psycho: Music from and Inspired by the
, included Danny
's re-recordings of some of Bernard Hermann
's score for the original
film, along with a collection of songs in genres from country
to drum and
, connected mainly by titles containing "psycho" or other
death or insanity-related words. Many of the songs were recorded
specifically for the soundtrack, to the extent that a number of
Hermann's score as
- Psych (1998) from The Numbers