Psycho IV: The Beginning

Watch Psycho IV: The Beginning

"You've met Norman. Now meet mother."
  • R
  • 1990
  • 1 hr 37 min
  • 5.4  (9,583)

Psycho IV: The Beginning takes us back to the beginning of the Bates family story. The movie is structured as a series of flashbacks, as Norman Bates (played by Anthony Perkins) calls into a radio talk show to discuss his troubled past. In the present day, Norman is a married man, settled down and content with his life. But as he remembers his childhood and adolescence, we see the seeds of his later madness being sown.

The action of the movie centers around Norman's relationship with his mother, Norma (played by Olivia Hussey in the flashbacks). From an early age, Norman was devoted to his mother, and their relationship was intense and complicated. Norman's father was a brutal and abusive man, and Norma clung to her son as her only source of emotional support. As the years went by, Norman became increasingly isolated and withdrawn, and his mother's influence on him became more and more powerful.

The flashbacks in Psycho IV are punctuated by scenes from the present day, as Norman speaks to the radio host Fran Ambrose (played by CCH Pounder). Fran is sympathetic to Norman's plight, but she also challenges him on some of his more disturbing beliefs. As he talks about his past, Norman struggles to articulate what drove him to commit the murders that made him infamous. Along the way, we learn more about the events that shaped him, including his first sexual experience (with a woman named Gloria, played by Stephanie Weyman) and his ongoing struggle to deal with the feelings of shame and guilt that his relationship with his mother engendered.

One of the standout performances in Psycho IV is Henry Thomas, who plays the teenage Norman Bates in the flashbacks. Thomas, who was most famous at the time for his role in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, brings a wounded vulnerability to the role of young Norman. As he tries to navigate the complexities of his relationship with his mother, we see a boy who is struggling to understand his own emotions, let alone the people around him.

In many ways, Psycho IV is a departure from the previous installments in the series. While the first three movies were focused on suspense and terror, Psycho IV is much more psychological in nature. It's a character study, exploring the inner workings of a disturbed mind. At the same time, however, the movie still manages to deliver on the thrills that fans of the franchise have come to expect. There are plenty of tense moments and shocking twists, and director Mick Garris (who had previously helmed the Stephen King adaptation Sleepwalkers) keeps the action moving at a brisk pace.

Overall, Psycho IV offers an intriguing look at the early years of Norman Bates, one of the most iconic characters in the history of horror. It's a movie that will appeal to fans of the original Hitchcock classic, as well as those who are looking for a more psychological take on the slasher genre. The performances are strong, the direction is confident, and the script (by Joseph Stefano, who wrote the screenplay for the original Psycho) is intelligent and thought-provoking. Whether you're a die-hard fan of horror movies or just looking for a compelling character study, Psycho IV is definitely worth a watch.

Psycho IV: The Beginning
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 37 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.4  (9,583)