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This Hitchcock film came out in 1960, 15 years before I was born. It's something I've wanted to see for a very long time, and finally got around to it in 2018. (I meant to watch it on Halloween, but didn't actually get to it until the night after Halloween.) It has had a tremendous influence on the horror genre and pop culture in general, with various elements of the film becoming iconic. And... that's probably part of the reason I ended up not liking it quite as much as I'd hoped I would. Because it was impossible for me to be surprised by anything that happened in the movie. Part of me suspects that even if I hadn't known anything about it before I watched it, I still would have found the big twist at the end predictable, but I could be wrong. In any event, I'm not going to spoil it in this review.
Well, it begins with a woman named Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) getting ready to return to work, after having spent her lunch break having sex with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis, in a hotel. She's tired of only seeing him in secret, but he can't afford to provide a good life for her, since a lot of his meager income goes to paying his ex-wife alimony. Then, when Marion gets to work at a real estate agency, a client gives her boss $40,000, which the boss gives to Marion, to deposit in the bank. Instead, she decides to keep the money and skip town. At one point in her trip, a heavy rainstorm forces her to pull off the highway, and take shelter for the night at the Bates Motel. The place is run by a man named Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who lives in a large house near the motel, with his mother (who he says is mentally ill, but not dangerous). Norman invites Marion to join him for supper, but when he goes to tell his mother, Marion can hear her screaming her opposition to the idea. So Norman brings sandwiches down to his office instead of bringing Marion up to the house, and the two of them talk for awhile. Later, Marion goes back to her motel room and takes a shower. In the film's most iconic scene, she is stabbed to death in the shower, by a figure we don't see very clearly, though it would appear to be Norman's mother. Later, Norman discovers the grisly scene of the murder, cleans it up, and disposes of Marion's body and her car, to protect his mother.
That's about the halfway point of the movie. Subsequently, Marion's sister, Lila, worries about Marion. And of course Marion's boss wants to find her and get the money back, but he's willing to leave it to a private investigator, Milton Arbogast, so that the police won't have to be involved. Lila also talks to Sam about Marion, and he had no idea where she'd gone. Arbogast eventually tracks her to the Bates Motel, but... let's just say the trail goes cold. Later, Lila and Sam go to the motel to do some snooping of their own.
And I guess that's all I can say about the plot, without spoiling the twist. Anyway... I did think it was a good movie, but I couldn't manage to think it was a great movie. Again, maybe I would have liked it more if the twist had surprised me. Or maybe I wouldn't. Either way, I don't really have any complaints about the movie, but I guess seeing it for the first time 58 years after it was released has given me plenty of chances to become jaded, more accustomed to horror movies that have gone so far beyond what happens in this one. I just think it feels sort of... quaint.
I should also mention that there have been several sequels, which I'm not sure if I'll ever see. And there was a sort of prequel TV series in 2013-17, called Bates Motel. (I only had the chance to see the first season of that, but I do want to see all of it, someday.) One thing that I found interesting about seeing that before seeing the original movie was that when Norman complains about the highway having been moved, so they no longer get many guests, it reminded me of the moving of the highway being a major plot point in the first season of the show.