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Review: Psycho II (1983)

Directed by: | 107 minutes | , | Actors: , Vera Miles, Robert Loggia, Meg Tilly, , Hugh Gillin, Robert Alan Browne, , , , , Tim Maier, , , , , , Thaddeus Smith

This film is the sequel to ’s classic 1960’s “Psycho.” Norman is declared cured and returns to his home and motel. Strange events soon occur: the notes that Norman’s dead mother has left for him, her voice that reaches him repeatedly, the appearance of his dead mother behind her bedroom window, the calls he receives from her … Curiosity strikes immediately and is reinforced by the persistent strange events, the cause of which is also unclear to the viewer. After a while it turns out that various events are accounted for by the revenge-hungry mother and daughter Loomis, but this also does not explain everything … So Norman is still insane and with his sick mind he himself is responsible for a few things ? And these are immediately the film’s strengths: the viewer’s curiosity about Norman’s mental well-being and the causes of the initially inexplicable events …

That there is more going on than just the nefarious activities of mother and daughter Loomis becomes clear when several murders are committed, by someone dressed in women’s clothing … Together with the strange events, this is what causes Norman to have a mental fight. to maintain his (returned?) mental health. In addition to the murders committed, the horror in this film is therefore mainly of a psychological nature when Norman seems to slowly but surely lose this fight… and is also aware of it. Norman gradually begins to display increasingly confused behavior, and this creates compassion, tension and horror in several ways: the viewer becomes concerned both for Norman’s mental well-being, but also for the misdeeds that he himself may be capable of. What also contributes to this is the threat that comes from him when he recognizes that he can be responsible for the murders and strange events that have been committed and that he also starts to show unpredictable and even aggressive behavior at times …

Despite his dubious past, the viewer’s sympathy lies with Norman during his mental decline. This is because he is now sincerely of good will and because he is increasingly becoming a victim of the evil forces that conspire against him. Perkins is on the right track and manages to evoke sympathy through a range of nervous facial expressions and increasingly dazed looks, but also to appear credible and terrifying at the threat that gradually emanates from him. Also adding to the threat and oppressive atmosphere is the best imaginable setting in which the story takes place: again Norman’s house on the hill and the adjacent motel. Its relative remoteness and isolation seem almost symbolic of Norman’s inability to escape the madness that threatens him from all sides… and which also creates an ominous and slightly claustrophobic atmosphere all the more. In addition, the remoteness of the house ensures that the strange events can continue undisturbed for a longer period of time and that in fact makes it an indispensable location in both this and the previous Psycho film.

It is only in the last minutes that clarification is given about the identity of the murderer in this film … a surprising denouement, but also one that can be experienced as too far-fetched. It does, however, make it clear that this film, like Hitchcock’s film from 1960, must be viewed several times in order to be able to appreciate the developments in the story all the more. Immediately after the announcement of the killer’s identity, the greatest psychological horror is perfectly expressed in the last seconds of the film. First of all because in any case Norman himself turns out to be capable of killing again, but especially because of his “conversation” with his “mother” from which it appears that madness has completely taken possession of him again. A bitter and satirical side effect is that this eventually also came about through acts that were carried out with the best intentions for his well-being, however fatal this turned out to be for the various fallen deaths …

This film is an interesting and qualitatively good sequel to the 1960 film. The initial lack of clarity about Norman’s state of mind and his fight against his mental deterioration keep curiosity going, as well as the uncertainty surrounding various strange events. Perkins is in good shape and succeeds in evoking sympathy as well as radiating threat. Due to the multiple story lines and the denouement that is only revealed in the last minutes of the film, it is advisable to watch this film several times to appreciate a few things even better. A worthy sequel to Hitchcock’s 1960 film.

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