The first twenty minutes or so of the film Psycho are a typical Hitchcockian thriller: an average main character winds up paranoid that everyone’s out to get her. Marion actually is guilty, which is unusual, but she has love as an excuse, and the man that she stole 40 thousand from was a jerk, to boot. When the police officer shows up, instantly questioning her suspicious behavior, he seems like the main antagonist. He’s inscrutable behind his deep, almost monotone voice and the dark shades that tint the windows to his soul.
Since this opening seems like a normal Hitchcock movie, the shower scene is a complete surprise. Or, should be. It was spoiled for me before I first saw the film, and I’ve seen it several times since. As a result, I was better prepared during the scenes leading up to the murder. I was slightly surprised that I wasn’t bored during them, considering that they track the life of a woman who is unceremoniously killed for completely unrelated reasons. It’s a testament to Hitchcock’s skill that this potentially superfluous section of the film is both entertaining in itself – the tension is strong due to the subtlety of the acting – and is also relevant to the film – both Marion’s lover and sister will reappear later.
Unlike directors like M Night Shyamalan, Hitchcock’s work is constantly high quality and therefore avoids the potential flaw to the shocking serve his plot takes. In Psycho, he has produced an original twist on then-modern cinema, while remaining high in quality. The acting, too, is good: Anthony Perkins does a great job at being creepy yet innocent, and everyone else does a good job at being normal.
Because everything works so well in the movie, it’s easy to forget that the film doesn’t have a strong thematic meaning or point to any moral. It doesn’t need to, since the film calls attention to itself as a unique story, and maintains its audience’s attention by its existence. In essence, I’m saying that Hitchcock is just the best ever at everything, and Psycho is really good in itself.