At risk of losing all of my street cred with the entire internet worth of people who come and visit MWTVG on a daily basis, I am going to come clean with a secret that I have been harboring for decades. I figure that most of your folks are cool (minus the guy who proudly proclaims that MIDWEST MIKE has funny variations of man-parts… you’re just creepy), and will hopefully accept me as an individual with all of the faults I may have.
So here we go.
(sound of deep exhalation)
Hello, my name is MIDWEST MARK and I have never seen Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO. There, I said it. It’s not like I have willfully shunned one of the most iconic horror movies of all time, merely have not been interested enough to actually watch it. Every time I perused my old video store, there was always another NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET or HALLOWEEN or EVIL DEAD or pretty much anything else that took precedent over PSYCHO. And let’s put it this way… why would I watch a movie in black and white when I can watch one in color. Call me picky, because I am.
So that you don’t think for a second that I am not willing to go all in with the MWTVG lifestyle, I am currently bidding on a few copies of PSYCHO on ebay. I’ll have something to compare it to eventually, do not fret.
Of course I’m familiar with the movie’s premise now being fully ingrained within pop culture, but it puts me in an awkward spot when it comes to the new series BATES MOTEL. As far as I’m concerned (call it the marriage of denial and justification), I am happy to approach the show with fresh eyes not being tainted by the endless comparisons that will no doubt occur between it an the source material. AKA what I’ve been doing with THE WALKING DEAD for weeks now. But at the same time, will there be a bunch of inside jokes and allusion that will fly straight over my head?
Thus, I boldly forge ahead into parts unknown. And how did it go? BATES MOTEL is fantastic.
The show pulls a big CASINO ROYALE on us and appears like they are set in the 1960’s until Norma pulls out her cellphone and Norman speeds away in a modern sports car. Don’t call it a prequel, call it a pseudo-prequel/franchise reboot of sorts. And what the hell, A&E?!? Talk about taking a flying leap onto the horror genre train with this one… there were some genuinely unnerving scenes especially with Norma’s rape and her bludgeoning of the perpetrator. Much edgier than I expected from the same channel that brings you DUCK DYNASTY and STORAGE WARS.
Starring both FREDDIE HIGHMORE (CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES) and VERA FARMIGA (THE DEPARTED, ORPHAN), it is quickly apparent that this is not the FREDDIE HIGHMORE that frolicked with Willy Wonka in the mid-2000’s. While he seemed awkward at first as any child actor scraping at the boundaries of puberty would, the casting was spot on. Vera brings Norma to life very accurately as a overly-controlling psychopath of a mother while Freddie makes Norman deeply flawed from his father’s death, but at the same time sensitive and suggestible able to be easily taken advantage of by his mother.
They move into the motel at the beginning of the episode and quickly discover some of the bizarre locals. The prior owner of the property comes back to heckle Norman and ends up raping Norma in the kitchen. Norman catches him mid-act and knocks him out with an iron while his mother stabs him repeatedly with a kitchen knife. It was interesting that up until that point, everything almost seemed normal.
Norman and Norma stay up until two in the morning tearing up carpet and cleaning up from the murder then dump the body in the lake. Two cops show up and are suspicious of the midnight renovations but never find the body.
We also see Norman trying to not be socially awkward in school which is easier said than done for him… it’s obvious that he’s been largely sheltered and denied an adequate social life for a long while. His high school classmates are surprisingly forgiving of his strange behavior and his educational adviser is oddly touchy-feely with him.
Although I am not familiar with the original movie, I absolutely loved the first episode of BATES MOTEL. I’ll give it a solid “A” and this will be a nice replacement to some of my shows that are soon to end their seasons.