Despite being directed by Anthony Perkins, this second sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s immortal original is a tremendous let-down that does a great disservice to the character of Norman Bates. Where he was charming and disarming despite his murderous tendencies in the previous movies (which is part of what makes him so menacing) here he’s ominous and creepy instead almost immediately, which negates any sense of developing suspense. Even worse is Diana Scarwid, delivering an unsympathetic and humorless performance as Norman’s latest fixation, and while the audience is constantly told that Scarwid bears a striking resemblance to Janet Leigh’s Marion, it’s hard not to notice that they don’t look alike at all. It precludes the audience from suspending their sense of disbelief by constantly taking them out of the movie, while the plot moves along at a snail’s pace on the way to a completely forgettable climax. It’s a shame that Perkins dropped the ball so much on this one because Bates is one of cinema’s most interesting characters, yet the man who made him come alive doesn’t seem to be interested in him here, and delivers a dull, conventional slasher instead of a satisfying follow-up.
Rating: ★★ (out of 5)