There are a few things people don’t know about me. One of those things being that I am a huge fan of the movie Psycho. A paper I wrote about the movie, achieved me my A, in a GNVQ English exam.
In 2000, I went on a tour of California and, the only thing I really wanted to do, was go on the Universal studios back lot tour, to see The Bates Motel. I still have an unused Bates Motel flannel, that I bought 13-years ago. I’ve owned Psycho on VHS, DVD and blu ray. So, when I heard A&E were working on a prequel series to my favourite film, I was apprehensive to say the least.
Now, it isn’t really truthful to call Bates Motel a prequel. It really isn’t, it’s mostly inspired by the Robert Bloch novel ‘Psycho’. It’s set in the modern-day and in a different town to the novel and the movie.
We’re first introduced to Norman (Freddie Highmoore) just after he discovers the body of his father in the garage. A cause of death is never given and from Norma’s (Vera Farmiga) reaction it hardly seems accidental. Six months later, Norma and Norman have bought a motel and moved to a new town, White Pine Bay.
Norma’s brutal rape, at the hands of the motel’s former owner kicks off the main story line. Coming home after sneaking out to a party, Norman smashes the rapist on the head, with a blunt object. Whilst Norman gets a first aid kit to attend to his mother’s wounds, the rapist taunts Norma until she stabs him multiple times. Norman wants to call the police, but his mother convinces him to help her cover it up by stating “who would want to stay at the rape/murder hotel. We came here to start our lives over and I Am Starting Over”.
Parallels have been drawn between this and American Horror Story, but Bates Motel has more in common with David Lynch’s twin peaks, than anything else. Everybody in this seemingly idyllic town is connected and they all have secrets.
Everything about this works, the pacing is great, the script is sharp and the musical score is tone setting and completely un-intrusive.
The performances are great, as Norma was a mostly an off-screen character, Farmiga as a lot more to work with than Highmoore. But, he doesn’t let the confines of playing a well-established character hold him back, there are elements of Anthony Perkins in his performance but he manages to make the role his own.
This is a true homage to a classic that leaves you wanting for more and, we’re going to get it. After this episode aired in the US, A&E announced that they’re commissioning another series.
The Bates Motel gets it’s UK premiere on Universal Channel on Thursday September 12th at 9pm.