Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 1998. Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment. Screenplay by Joseph Stefano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch. Cinematography by Christopher Doyle. Produced by Brian Grazer, Gus Van Sant. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Production Design by Tom Foden. Costume Design by Beatrix Aruna Pasztor. Film Editing by Amy E. Duddleston.
Gus Van Sant performs an exercise in the ridiculous with this almost shot-for-shot (but in colour) remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s milestone horror classic. Marion Crane (Anne Heche) checks into the Bates Motel after stealing a huge sum of money that she plans on giving to her alimony-ridden boyfriend (Viggo Mortensen); you might already know that her stay at the motel and new friendship with its proprietor Norman (a miscast Vince Vaughn) while on her way to Viggo’s house is rather short lived. Julianne Moore is hilarious as a butched-up version of Marion’s relentless sister Lila, while William H. Macy appears as the indefatigable detective Milton Arbogast. Unfortunately for them, Van Sant’s faithfulness to making the film exactly like the original saps it of any uniqueness and energy; Heche is game in the lead role (her scream in the culture-reversing shower scene is particularly memorable), but she trades Janet Leigh’s fire-beneath-ice mystery for an on-the-table, fully frank version of Marion, and so loses our interest fast.