How do you make a sequel to one of the greatest horror films of all time? It is impossible to live up to the expectations of Psycho. Who can’t forget the amazing shower scene and the climatic fall down the stairs! Immediately behind the 8-ball, Psycho II attempts to twist plot lines into something original, which ends with mixed results.
We all know the story of the original Psycho. Mr. Bates (Anthony Perkins) takes on the persona of both his mom and the loveable, albeit creepy, Norman. The sequel focuses on Norman’s release from jail and his inability to fit in with modern society. Past sins result in enemies that attempt to manipulate and drive him crazy. As the viewer, it feels weird to watch Norman tormented by the people around him, but it is also insightful to watch him in a very human position. It makes logical sense that the townspeople are upset with Norman being released from jail and it also makes sense that some of the more aggressive citizens would attempt to destroy his life. As a whole, Psycho II is a very grounded and realistic look into the mind of a killer and the people it affects.
While realistic, Psycho II is also rough at points. The film feels very long and drawn out. There are a lack of scares and the creepiness of the original is lost in the second installment. The ending of the film is also a bit of a let down. By the time the viewer gets to the end, the plot twists don’t seem that impactful. I do give the director, Richard Franklin, credit for taking Norman’s backstory and manipulating it, but I can also see many fans being upset with his changes.
Ultimately, Psycho II is an insightful look into the story of Norman Bates. The viewer is tossed into unique positions and battles of morality. Many times you genuinely feel for Norman, while other times you see splashes of the crazy serial killer we all know and love. Anthony Perkins is yet again amazing as Bates and in many ways keeps the viewer focused on the story at hand. On the flip side, a lack of scares and controversial manipulation of the original story will result in many fans being turned off. In the end, Psycho II is nowhere close to as good as the original, but it also doesn’t deserve to be completely written off.
If you liked Psycho II, you might also like Psycho.