“Psycho 2” is one of those movies that I know isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but I just have a soft spot for it. It gets so much right that you can forgive its occasional flaws: It picks up the story two decades after the events of the original with a reasonable effort to fill in the gaps, and then proceeds to throw the audience into a whodunit mystery that’s impressively layered and compelling. Anthony Perkins returns as Norman Bates, and while his performance is mannered and theatrical to the point of distraction, he still manages to effectively convey Norman’s insecurities and self-loathing – in the process, he creates a tragic anti-hero that’s not forgiven for his transgressions but instead mourns the circumstances that led to them, and it’s an impressively tricky balancing act to pull off. Additionally, the movie is thrillingly unpredictable: There’s so much going on at once, sometimes in the same shot, that a re-watch following its conclusion’s revelations immeasurably helps to enhance the movie’s power. Like Hitchcock’s original, the violence here is truly shocking for its era while managing to push the narrative further, so it never feels gratuitous. Mind you, there are some pacing issues here and there, and it’s hard not to notice that the first hour is a little on the slow side, but by the time the last 45 minutes kick in, it’s all worth it.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)