PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING (1990) Movie Review

If one were to describe Psycho IV in a single word, the word would be ‘unnecessary.’ And that is saying something coming from a stream of sequels that are all inherently superfluous.

The third sequel in the Psycho movie legacy (for the sake of argument, let’s leave out the 1987 Bates Motel TV movie and the Gus Van Sant remake) finds Norman Bates free from custody and living the married life in suburbia when his facade of normalcy is interrupted as a radio call-in program stumbles upon the topic of matricide.

What generates from this storytelling device are a series of dramatizations that play out many of the implications made within the previous films, all of which were much better left to the imagination.

The main folly found in this story is that the fascination garnered by Hitchcock’s original portrayal of Norman Bates in Psycho was largely due to the fact that we were left to ponder for ourselves what the boy’s relationship with Mother was. It lent a sense of mystery to the character that only feels cheapened and spoiled by the flashbacks in this movie – a bit of a surprise considering that Joseph Stefano, the writer behind the initial classic, returned to compose this film’s screenplay.

But sadly, that’s what the whole of this movie boils down to – cheap exploitation trash.
…however, if that’s the sort of thing you’re in the mood for, Psycho IV can be kind of fun.

Yes, the writing and acting are bad, sometimes painfully so as plot holes are carelessly strewn about every few minutes. Yes, the revelations exposed in this story would have been better left as curiosities. And yes, the set-up that leads Norman to tell these stories seems easy and rather cliche, but if you’re able to make peace with the fact that it flounders in comparison to Hitchcock’s masterpiece and be satisfied with a simple exploration of the world created by the Psycho series, – however dumb it may occasionally be – then there is a certain kind of entertainment to be had by this movie.

All in all, it would be difficult to begrudge anyone who doesn’t care for Psycho IV. For all intents and purposes, it would be entirely fair to deem this sequel as a rather bad movie.

But if you are in the right sort of mood, it is a pretty good bad movie.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

(or if you’re feeling ambitious, you can watch the WHOLE THING!)

~ Stephen
Vía Letterboxd – The Paper Masque blog