I am not near as tick as Alfred Hitchcock. Director Gus Van Sant took a big chance when he tried to repaint the Mona Lisa. That's like pulling on Superman's cape or the mask of the Lone Ranger. Don't do it, man. Well, ole Gus took a shot at it and at least he followed the script which is as wonderful today as it was when Hitch brought it to the screen in 1960. Where's Anthony Perkins when you need him? Nobody plays crazy better than Tony! Even though Vince Vaughn's Norman Bates was a gallant effort, he's still not the real Norman. I compared Vaughn's every movement and gesture to Perkin's Norman Bates and that's not fun for a viewer; such an effort causes disappointment and fatigue rather than intrigue.
Marion Crane (Anne Heche) steals 400K this time, what with inflation and all (setting is Dec 11,1998) and leaves Phoenix, AZ, to parts unknown. The close-up scenes of Marion driving and hearing the voices accuse her "in her mind" and yet she is determined to keep driving and get away while the music is playing is still a work of art. That Hitchcockian/Psycho music can and was duplicated and it is the finest aspect of the movie. The violins, bass, and harps are still mysterious and scary.
The Shower Scene. Yes, it is reproduced, but something is lost when done in color and this time round Norman's wielding of the knife is more violent and bloody. The terror is missing. The terror IS the shower scene, so what happen? Van Sant tries to be true to the record even to the point of the close-ups of the shower head from below as the water is harmlessly falling on Marion immediately before you-know-what-happens.
Milton Arbogast. One of the all time great literary names. Private Investigator Arbogast was played magnificently by William H "Fargo" Macy. The boyfriend Sam Loomis was ably performed by Viggo Mortensen and perhaps the brightest and only improvement from the original cast was the part of the worried sister Lila Crane (Julianne Moore) who pushed the investigation of the missing Marion.
Great lines that live forever: "Yes, we have a vacancy - 12 rooms - 12 vacancies.... No one ever comes around much anymore since the new highway .... Why don't you stay in Room #1 so you will be close to the office.... ( so Norman can look through the peep hole).... I stuff things - you know - taxidermy.... Norman, don't you put me back in that fruit cellar.... Norman WAS his mother....
The first sight of the neon sign "Bates Motel" still causes fear and Van Sant captures a few memorable scenes of fright, but he cannot stand up to the scrutiny of a Hitchcock fan. This movie did not meet my expectations; and I am feeling very smug about it. Rock 'n Roll.