Review Date:
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Joseph Stephano
Producers: Gus Van Sant, Brian Grazer
Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates, Anne Heche as Marion Crane, Julianne Moore as Lila Crane
Marion Crane decides to rob $400,000 from her employer in order to help her lover get out of debt. She leaves town, but unexpectedly gets caught in a rainstorm, and must stop off at the Bates Motel for a night. This is where she meets Norman Bates, the owner of said establishment. Norman operates the motel and takes care of his ill mother. They talk and eat, after which she goes off to take a shower. Thrilling moments ensue, as a private detective, Marion’s lover and sister all get involved in a mystery.
Slow, well-manufactured film with solid performances by its leads, doesn’t have enough tension to be qualified a real thriller, and basically makes you question its remake in the first place. This film has some good moments, many long-winded scenes, an excellent eye for style and great performances by actors who basically had to recreate characters that were considered historical in the eyes of many movie-goers. The one actor who stood out from the pack was definitely the rising star of the year, Vince Vaughn, who took Anthony Perkins’ superb original performance, and added his own macabre touch of surrealism.

The directing of this film was basically a “shot-for-shot” remake of the original, and therein, remained extremely stylish and original, in classic Hitchcock fashion. Van Sant did take some initiative in regards to little changes here and there, but on the whole, the film still played like it could have been set in the 50’s or 60’s. Having said that, the film’s main peg of disinterest for me was its slow pace and even slower build-up. I guess I have just gotten used to the greater quantity of thrills in the thrillers of nowaday, and just didn’t appreciate the snails pace build-up of this story in respect to its end result.

Having said that, this film might be better appreciated by those who never saw the original, since they would not be privy to the film’s basic story line and twist, allowing for a greater interest in the mystery of the whole thing. All in all, the film does offer some great performances by its actors, with Vaughn offering another standout performance, some stylish cinematography, but ultimately runs at too slow a pace, without offering enough real thrills, to keep me interested. I think my good friend The Arrow said it best when he turned to me at the end of this film and said “Unnecessary. Why not re-release the original instead of this?” No real improvement, no real surprises, just a re-creation of a film that played very well in its original state in the 60’s, but suffers somewhat in its imitation form of the 90’s.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian