31 Days of Horror
4. Psycho (Gus Van Sant, 1998)
[New to Me #314]
I think the biggest problem that this Psycho remake has isn’t that it exists, it’s that it tries so hard to both be the same as the classic and be a new piece of its own. Reusing Herrmann’s score as adapted and reproduced by Elfman was its first big mistake. Another mistake is utilizing most of the same shots as the original while switching things to color. We already have such fond memories of these scenes in all their glorious B&W photography. The abundance of the color red doesn’t help too much either frankly. And, of course, let’s not forget all the fun new things he adds in to modernize things. What a bad idea.
In comes the casting! Who could actually fill the shoes of Anthony Perkins in the role of Norman Bates? Probably no one in this world. But Vince Vaughn? Really? It’s almost like the casting director knew how bad it would be so they just decided, “Eh, whatever.” He has absolutely no timing and every bit of dialogue seems totally rushed. Sometimes it feels like he’s trying to burst into one of those long rambles he’s well-known for instead of staying calm and collected like a character like this should, even in those nervous moments. At the very least they could have had someone with a little talent here, but NOPE. He just sort of looks like a recovered drug addict most of the time and it is really depressing, except when he’s dressed up in a blonde wig and pink robe and you see his face perfectly because it is the FUNNIEST THING.
Then we’ve got the other cast members, who are all people that I like, but sort of kill me here! William H Macy wasn’t half bad thankfully, Viggo did just fine with his limited screen time, Anne Heche looked like she didn’t want to be doing this at all, and Julianne Moore was the only person who did a pretty good job here. Yet even some alright supporting performances couldn’t do anything to save this one.
Maybe if the original didn’t exist at all this wouldn’t be that bad, but it does and it acknowledges it time and time again. It’s not the absolute travesty that some declare it, but it’s a hell of a weak film for what was supposed to be a shot-for-shot remake.