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Psycho

Year: 1998
Studio: Universal
Director: Gus Van Sant
Producer: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Joseph Stefano/Robert Bloch
Cast: Anne Heche, Vince Vaughan, William H Macy, Viggo Mortensen, Julianne Moore, Robert Forster, Philip Baker Hall, Rita Wilkinson, James Remar

All the comments and opinions I've heard about this remake amount to 'why bother?' – much like I found concerning the remake of The Omen a few years ago. I was expecting something so similar to Hitchcok's 1960 original I'd be turning it off after five minutes.

But as well as an impressive cast, Van Sant managed to wrangle something that gives the (very) old legend a surprising amount of depth. It's not nearly as bad as you've heard.

The tall, smiling clean-cut Vaughan is a good choice to play Norman Bates, and Heche is pretty and very human as Marion. The one off casting note was Macy, playing it so over the top as a hard-boiled, street-smart private investigator it's like he just stepped from the pages of one of Hammett's lesser works.

Marion takes the cache of money left by a sleazy but very rich customer at her real estate office on a whim, finally stopping to sleep at the Bates motel and meeting the imposing but seemingly harmless Norman. I know I say this often in reviews, but as this is retelling perhaps the most famous scary story in cinema, it's more apt here than ever: if you need to be told what happens next, you're reading the wrong website.

Bernard Hermann's screeching violins are referenced lovingly, and it does as good a job as Hitchcock does in maintaining the suspense after Marion's killing – if you asked ten movie fans what happened for the rest of the film after Janet Leigh's grisly exit, I reckon only about six would be able to tell you. It's a sign of the power of the first act but it tends to overshadow the rest of the movie.

Let's all go inside!

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