Psycho, that classic horror film surrounding the disturbing psyche of the owner of Bates Motel, has gone down in history as one of the creepiest, and yet most beloved, scary movies of all time.
When I first saw the commercials before the “Bates Motel” series began, I was skeptical. The Norman Bates of yore would certainly be difficult to duplicate, especially considering the fact that Hollywood has a different perception of horror now than in 1960 when the original movie was launched. I wondered if the “Bates Motel” prequel story would fall into the category of so many follow-ups that contain all the right characters, but somehow miss the mark, and end up a huge disappointment. I was intrigued by the thought of how the relationship between Norman and his mother would play out, though, and in the end I caved and decided to give it a try.
“Bates Motel” began with high school student Norman Bates (played by Freddie Highmore) and his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) buying a motel in a small town following the death of Mr. Bates. They were off on a grand new beginning, a fresh start to put the past behind them. That seemed innocent enough. What could possibly be sinister about the sweet-tempered young boy and his blond-haired, blue-eyed, vision-of-loveliness mother?
But this is based on Psycho, after all, and appearances are definitely not what they seem. By the end of the first episode, the action, killing, suspense, and intense eeriness of the original film were fairly leaping from the screen. “Bates Motel” is now mere episodes away from finishing the second season, and the action has not at all dissipated, but continues to rise.
It was always my opinion of Psycho that the mother drove Norman Bates insane with manipulation. Maybe that was the intent of the original film and maybe not, but “Bates Motel” keeps me continually guessing. I’m really not quite certain which of the two Bates family members is the driving force behind the insanity. Just when I think I have it figured out, the plot twists. That’s the mark of excellent writing, of course, and surely one of the reasons that “Bates Motel” has been picked up by A&E for a third season. Watch the video below for a teaser of the season two finale.
Having been skeptical of the show, I have since changed my opinion. “Bates Motel” captures the classic horror of Psycho, and actually adds more depth and creepiness to the mother/son relationship. If you have never seen “Bates Motel,” the first season is available on Netflix, and the last few current episodes are on Hulu. You can watch “Bates Motel” on Monday nights on A&E.
[Image courtesy of Broadway World]