A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (IMDb)
The fugitive first act offers solid suspense, but the film reaches another level of intrigue with Marion’s arrival at the isolated Bates Motel run by the charmingly chatty yet discomfortingly awkward and odd Norman (Perkins’ detailed portrayal is superb–see his nervous candy eating). With some disconcerting slow pans and zooms and a few unsettling edits (see the shower murder), Hitchcock adds just the right amount of flair to the perfectly paced mystery as it builds to its shocking conclusion.
What begins as an engaging but slow-paced (lots of long driving scenes) supernatural-tinged mystery comes to a tragic climax unexpectedly early, setting the stage for a uniquely extended and deliciously eerie epilogue dealing with the devilish psychological aftermath. The doppelganger intrigue could have been dragged out a little longer before the shocking twist reveal, but an excellent thread of torturous dramatic irony takes its place. A well-acted and surprisingly emotional thriller.