Being a huge fan of the Hitchcock film “Psycho” I was really excited for the American TV series Bates Motel.
Since the Second Season has started in the UK I thought I would refresh my memory and watch the whole of the first season again. I still adore it.
Psycho is an American Horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960. The film stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin and Vera Miles. The film follows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) a secretary who finds herself in a hotel situated in a secluded area after she has stolen money from her boss. When she gets to the hotel she meets the owner Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) who supposedly owns the hotel with his mother. The rest of the film follows the tragic case of Bates and the relationship he has with him mother.
Bates Motel is an American TV series starring Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga. The show is a contemporary prequel to Psycho and shows Norman Bates mental state throughout his teenage years. The first episode is full of drama, the first five minutes show Normans Bates father lying dead on the floor, and then six months later – Norma (Normans mother) and Norman Bates own a hotel in White Pine Bay..but the action didn’t stop there on their first night of moving there Keith Summers, the former owner of the hotel, shows up and tells them that he owns the hotel. Norman and Norman think nothing of it and go back inside. Later that night, after Norman has snuck out to be with new friends, Keith Summers returns to make himself clear.
So Norman is out of the house – unbeknownst to his mother – and Keith Summers has just walked in, What does Norma do? She Screams for Norman, naturally. Norman isn’t there so Keith has an advantage, which he takes. So Norma is screaming and Keith Summers wants to shut her up, he puts duct tape over her mouth and handcuffs her to the table. Being handcuffed to the table we see a shot of Norma crying, and then Keith leans down beside her and says these chilling words “I own this house and everything in it”. He then proceeds to rape her.
A couple seconds later Norman appears and hits Keith on the head. He falls to the ground and Norma is now able to move, she gets free from the handcuffs and everything is fine. Norman goes off to his room to get something, but Keith starts moving….Norma gets scared and stabs him repeatedly.
So the first episode alone has two deaths. Incredible. But that’s not all.
Once Norman and Norman get the body into one of the baths in a hotel room the police show up, and almost catch them in the act when one of the policemen needs to go to the bathroom. He is actually right beside the dead body and doesn’t even realise it.
The end of the episode is also shocking as we see this Asian girl tied up in what we can only presume is a basement, with no explanation. This sets the show up for the next episode.
I absolutely love this episode, and here’s why:
Freddie Highmore is exactly what I imagine Norman Bates would look like and he doesn’t disappoint one bit with his up-to-scratch acting of the role. The lines written for him are nothing compared to the performance he gives. Showing fear, anger, excitement, sadness and pleasure all at the same time takes skill, a skill I am happy to report Freddie Highmore is very high in.
Vera Farmiga shows the same level of acting as Highmore does with her portrayal of the possessive mother and what a performance she gives, being scared of your child is something very little parents experience and can express but Farmiga could show that off in her sleep.
Absolutely perfect choices for the cast.
Cinematography is important in any production, and believe me I was very impressed with the cinematography in this show. Not only does it show off the dark themes with lighting alone but it also has inventive shots that don’t show us the whole picture – it leaves a lot to the imagination and in a show like this, that is one of the most important things. Mystery.
The writing for the show is clearly done by professionals who are fans of the Bates storyline, as I could find no plot holes and was impressed with how accurately Norman Bates was written and portrayed.
Last but not at all least – the set design. I felt like I was back in my room watching the ’60’s film in colour – the hotel looks EXACTLY the same, which for a fan girl of the film is very important. The town in general is very sinister feeling which is important given the storyline.
If I had to give this Episode a rating out of five, it would definitely be five.