Psycho films shocking crimes in banal environments. The juxtaposition of violence and commonplace creates the impression that evil can strike anywhere. The most famous sequence, the murder in the shower, embodies the concept of intrusiveness. The shower, a place sectioned off for privacy, is characteristically uncontaminated and concealed. This is what makes the dark shadow of ‘Mrs. Bates’, a harsh outline against the white curtain, so disturbing. Psycho’s editing also reflects this contrast, the frenzied stabs of the knife cross cut at a blinding speed compared to the leisurely water pouring down at the start. Home, work, hotels – these are the most basic locales of daily life. Marion breaks the norm by stealing impulsively for her boss. Arbogast is suddenly thrown down house stairs, playing off the safety of the home as he is repeatedly stabbed in the foyer. A complex overhead shot captures the layout of the home. The bath washes away the blood, with the drain fading to Marion’s eyes li...
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... the appealing traits these characters present, they both act in an unlawful, perverse manner.
Psycho’s pessimistic point of view is one echoed in many great works of art. Many acclaimed auteurs have attempted to show the universality of darkness, from Robert Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Modern films, from Se7en to American Psycho to No Country for Old Men contain the same cynical message, displaying the prevalence of such gloomy perspective. Artists are continually fascinated with exploring the topic because it grounds a larger human worldview, founded on skepticism and uncertainty. It questions people’s inherent morality, struggling with the fundamental belief in innate societal morality and implicating an underlying depravity. If such a misanthropic view proves to be correct, then the world is indeed a twisted place.
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