HOLLYWOOD—This week saw the television premiere of A&E’s newest series “Bates Motel.” Wait a second, you may tell yourself. Doesn’t that name sound so familiar? It should, because if you can recall, Bates Motel is more famously known as the “Psycho” house where Norman Bates and his dear mother resided in.
Already we saw just how brilliantly legendary director Alfred Hitchcock brought “Psycho” to the big screen and revolutionized horror cinema; now we see just how the madness from this tale all started and lead to the “Psycho” phenomena.
Not wasting anytime, the show immediately gets down to business. One of the first image’s we see is a quiet house, and this version of Norman Bates is still a teenager. The peace and tranquility that lulls Norman to drift is quickly snapped, and terror has already arisen. Norman wakes up to the horror that his father is lying motionless, dead.
Once that sad segment is over, we see Norma and Norman drive along White Pine Bay, with a beautiful coastal view and their discussion of seeking a fresh start. The surprises keep coming-literally-when Norma presents Norman with their new home, a beat up motel no longer of service. The plan is to remodel and get the business running as mother-and-son-duo.
Norman has no trouble fitting in, as beautiful, preppy teenage girls flock all over him quickly at school. Jealousy quickly rise from a certain someone who disapproves Norman’s acquaintance with these girls: his own mother. She wants him home to help her with the unpacking and fixing up the place.
Like any teenager, Norman cannot stand his mother treating him like a baby (or maybe...we don’t know just yet) and sneaks out of the house to party with the girls when he’s sent to his room. Norma, unbeknownst to her that she is utterly alone, is violently attacked and raped by Keith Summers, the former owner who is still hell bent on losing the property.
Norman finally arrives to save his mother, though the damage is already done. When her assailant makes a crude remark to her (“You liked it,”), she snaps, and stabs him repeatedly, killing him. Norman insists that they call the police on basis for self-defense, but not wanting to ruin the reputation of her non-existent motel, decides that the best thing to do is dump the dead corpse down the river. Being the good son that he is, Norman supports and aids his dear mother and tells her that no matter what happens, it will always be the two of them.
Though we are just at the start of the series, the mood of incest is all over, it’s undeniable. There’s nothing wrong in saying one loves their mom of course, but the way Norman says it to his mother, makes you feel a bit uneasy. Taking out of context, the acting was done so well between Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga that they actually had great chemistry together as if they were actually in a relationship. But when you remember that they're suppose to be playing mother and son, it takes creepy to new levels.
Anthony Perkins famously portrayed the troubled Norman Bates right on key, and is the role most remember him for. This new portrayal of Norman Bates is played by former child-star Freddie Highmore, who we know as the cute-as-a-button Charlie from Tim Burton’s 2005 “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and in acclaimed films such as “Finding Neverland” and “The Golden Compass.” Now Highmore is all grown-up, taking on the role of the legendary psycho and ditching the “cute boy” status.
Then, playing the role of “the mother,” is Academy-Award nominee, Vera Farmiga. Unlike the 1960 film, this series will give insight on just who “the mother” character was and what her relationship with her son consisted of. Tonight’s episode already gave us a glimpse of how she is with Norman and how much she loves her son. Maybe a little too much.
It will be interesting to see just how this series will pan out. Yes, this series is meant to be a prequel to “Psycho,” but the major factor here is the time setting. Hitchcock’s version, as well as the novel, all took place in the mid-1900s, whereas this series is in the present. Though films have made remakes from decades ago, it will be interesting to see how all the events will ultimately unravel and lead to Norman Bates's fate and shocking reveal.
The series is already off a good start, and leaving you wanting more. You know things are already picking up when Norman Bates ends the show telling his dear mother that they “belong to each other.” Sounds a bit “Psycho,” if you catch the drift....
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