Psycho II, 1983, Universal Pictures.
Did Psycho necessitate a sequel? I’m not convinced, but isn’t it fun to see what happens to our friend Norman Bates? Of course it is.
22 years after the events of the first film Norman is released from the institution he’s been living in. Declared not guilty by reason of insanity Norman is taken back to Bates Motel where he begins a new life.
Psycho II begins with footage of the original as a reminder and to help prepare the viewer, which was a nice touch. The movie for a different angle than the first. In Psycho II we see Bates as a rational being with no decernable hints of reverting to his old way. In fact, he seems almost sane. He’s not committing crimes yet “Mother” is back and it becomes clear that someone is messing with Norman. I give the movie credit for not being overly predictable, it follows an interesting story but it also ends up being a little farfetched.
The film throws it’s own twists and uses psychology- undeniably, to a lesser extent and effect than the first. It’s complex, but not as complex as the original was. Being a huge fan of Hitchcock’s original film, I thought some elements of the plot were tempered with a little, particularly the character of “Mother” (relax, I won’t go into it, that would be too much spoilers).
The movie industry go through many changes in 10 years, never mind 22. The pace is notably different it’s much more modern, in colour and cinema tactics and angles have changed. Director Richard Franklin took over Hitchcock’s cinematic universe and brought it up to date and attempted to modernize a class with mixed results.
It’s wonderful to have Anthony Perkins back as Norman Bates. He doesn’t surpass his original performance, yet proves very capable in dictating who Norman is and where he goes all those years later. Without him, it just wouldn’t be the same.
Lila, reprised by Vera Miles, is also back in an interesting manner. Having the same actors and characters and house/hotel helps ease use into this “22 years later” transition. It just feels like we’ve away for a long time and now we’re back. Things have changed over time, but we are still in the same universe.
Psycho II falls short of the original and serves little purpose other than continuing the story of Norman Bates. The first Psycho was original, it was important, a classic. Psycho II doesn’t break ground much new ground, but it stays true to the the original and to it’s credit, doesn’t mess with the story *too* much.
If you’re content with the original and generally despise sequels, or are a Hitchcock purist, the sequels are perhaps best left alone. On the other hand, if you are curious about where they took Psycho next and what happens to Bates, Psycho II is a decent enough sequel that doesn’t require but deserves viewing. It’s a capable sequel with the ghost of the original looming over it’s shoulder. 3/5 stars.