Welcome to Psycho Week: Day 5. Today is the final day for the Psycho reviews. I hope you’ve enjoyed these movie reviews. Next week will be IP Man Week, and I’ll be reviewing all of the main movies that center on the character of IP Man, the real-life man that trained Bruce Lee. It’ll be interesting, given how much I try to avoid foreign films, but I’ve been meaning to see them, too. So, look for that next week. Today, I’m on the fourth and final film in the Psycho franchise, Psycho IV: The Beginning, and I was definitely looking forward to this movie in order to do some comparisons between it and Bates Motel.
Pyscho IV centers on Norman Bates once again as he plots out his next and possibly last murder after he’s been cured of his affliction. On a particularly dark radio show, Norman speaks to a host about matricide, when sons kill their own mothers. While speaking on the radio, he covers his life with Norma when she was alive, what drove him to murder and turned him into a psycho. Most importantly, he says he has to kill again.
If you’re looking for a better source and more believable source on how Norman goes insane, you’ll have to watch Bates Motel. There’s no better way to showcase insanity, but a slow turn over several seasons. This is just too short of a movie to do that, but it is interesting, to say the least. The differences between this and Bates Motel is actually interesting because they had a little bit of both going on at once. The main difference was Norma – who was nice sometimes but turned mean at the drop of a hat, which signifies bi-polar disorder, not that they ever confirm that in the show. She also had a strange accent which didn’t really match Norman’s mother voice, not even close, really.
The similarities were interesting too, like the way young Norman dressed. I swear he wore the same types of outfits Freddie Highmore wore in Bates Motel. The bond between mother and son that gets creepy, but not in that way. Norma’s hatred towards the new highway, etc. So, I’d actually say this movie is somewhere in-between the show and movie.
Of course, Anthony Perkins died two years after this came out, so he was never able to really see any other variation of this role or this character. That being said, he was the master, and always will be. So, let’s break this thing down and talk about the particulates that made this movie so good…or so bad…to begin with.
PEOPLE SCORE – 6/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 1|Casting – 1|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 1
First up, we have the people category (as always). I think we have enough characters in this film to consider most of them to play an important role for how things play out, but the acting is mediocre, the characters are mostly forgettable, the casting is only good for Norman, and no one has very strong chemistry. Not even when you learn Norman is now married.
WRITING SCORE – 8/10
Dialogue – 1|Balanced – 2|Story – 1|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2
The writing score wasn’t actually that bad. As a whole, this was an original take on the films, an origin story that people were genuinely interested in hearing about. Even though this serves as a prequel and a sequel, it still remains pretty balanced all-in-all. There isn’t much to the story, though. The story is interesting enough, being an origin story to a classic and iconic series, but other than that, it’s not really trying to tell you anything. While the dialogue was good sometimes, every good line was copied from Hitchcock’s script (as was the music).
BTS SCORE – 6/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2|Music – 1
Behind-the-scenes could have ultimately been better, but it was okay as is. While it was as-advertised, nothing else stood out. The visuals were rather tame and repetetive throughout the movie, the directing didn’t seem like a challenge, the editing all seemed normal, and like I said previously, the music was stolen from Hitchcock’s film, not redone.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 7/10
Introduction – 1|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 1|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 1
How about the Narrative Arc score? Well, it’s actually a bit strange. There is an introduction, but not to Norman and how he’s doing now. It was just an introduction to the radio show, and even that didn’t last very long until Norman calls in and provides the inciting incident – that he’s going to kill again. The obstacles come down to a couple things – Norman as a kid, breaking down his mentality, and the radio host trying to get him to tell her who he’s going to kill next. The climax is what everything comes to, and there’s very little falling action. Just an idea of where things’ll go from here, but never do.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 4/10
Rewatchability – 0|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impusle/Talk – 1|Sucks Audience IN – 1
Alright, so how about its entertainment value? Well, I don’t consider this a rewatchable movie, not even if I was giving the entire series a rewatch, I’d probably skip this one. Who knows, though. I do consider the origin story fun to see, but only because of Bates Motel. I don’t care to buy it or even own it (unless it’s part of a collector’s set), but I do feel like discussing it sometimes. I won’t lose my mind and go psycho cause I can’t talk about it, though. Finally, it sucked me in during some parts, but not nearly as much as the other films.
TOTAL SPECIAL – 30/50
Sequel – 5|Adds New – 10|Horror – 0|Mystery – 10|Halfway Decent – 5
Finally, the specialty questions that I wrote before seeing the movie. This is a sequel, so how does it fit in the series? It fits okay, but it lost it’s oomph a long time ago. One of the reasons you watch this is to see Norman as the man child. That innocent demeanor and smile is transformative, and he didn’t do it this time around, and nor did the young version of himself, which is a little bothersome for me. I do believe it added something new to the story, given the origin story. Norman can’t just keep leaving the institution and going back to the same old, they needed this, and I’m glad they got to do it before Perkins died. As for being a horror movie? Sorry, but there isn’t anything even remotely creepy about this movie. How about mystery? Well, one mystery is trying to figure out his next victim, which wasn’t super strong. Another mystery comes down to learning how he became who he is, which also wasn’t strong, but together, they get full points. Finally, was it halfway decent? This is when I gave it half points. I believe the director wanted to tell another convincing Psycho tale, and because they didn’t do the best in Norman’s character, I consider that a letdown. That’s the only prerequisite, really.