Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is a horror film based around the Bate’s Motel and a woman called Marion Crane, stealing money from her boss and heading out of town to hide, here she goes to stay in a hotel, the Bate’s Motel to be exact, and here she meets her sticky end when she gets murdered in the shower. The murderer we all know is Bates himself, but later on we find out he tries to blame it on his mother, his mother who is dead and stuffed, and then we find out Bates dresses as his mother while murdering someone.
The extract starts in pitch black the only thing nearly visible is the car; Arbogast exits the car by jumping seats over to the right side of the car and exiting out that way. Camera tracks Arbogast as he walks to the motel. He enters the door where we can see things a lot clearer. He enters a room where he sees a safe open and then the camera does a point of view shot to show the audience the stuffed creatures on the wall, this shows the audience Bates or someone else living in the house likes to stuff things which is significant for what happens later on in the film.
The camera then goes to mid shot of Arbogast kneeling down to the safe finding it empty. Arbogast walks outside of the Motel and looks inquisitively at Mrs Bates house. He sees a light on at the house and starts to walk up to investigate. The camera shows a long shot of the steps and Arbogast. When Arbogast reaches the top, the camera shows the big house and little Arbogast in one shot, this is to emphasis the size of the house and it is showing power in a threatening way. The camera cuts to Arbogast level with then house as he reaches it.
Arbogast walks in, cautiously as he is nervous because he does not know what to expect in the big house, as he is thinking he may be dealing with a psychotic man. The camera then does a P. O. V shot of the passages in the house, then back to the stairs. He starts to walk up the stairs, camera doing a close up of his legs as he walks, the camera then cuts to a close up of the door at the top of the stairs, where there is a crack in the door and light seeps through, Arbogast un aware of this.
The camera cuts back to Arbogast and he has made it up the steps right to the top without anything happening so far. There is a long shot of Arbogast at the top of the stairs and this is when you see a figure run from the door with the crack in it, wearing a hat and women’s clothing holding a knife up in the air and launches at Arbogast.
We then get a close up of Arbogast with a knife slash on his face and although we are only shown his face, we know he is falling down the stairs. We then get a close up of his feet tripping over the last step causing him to trip and fall to the ground, here we then see the person we all know as Bates jump on Arbogast, kneels down and starts stabbing him, the camera focusing on the knife as it rises from the air, Arbogast screaming with pain.
This extract makes excellent use of violins to make the scene build tension and scare the audience, from medium pitched, long notes which gives the audience the sense of foreboding, for example as the inspector walks around the hotel to the house, we get the strange feeling something is about to happen unexpected, and our expectations are met when we reach the end of the extract, to low notes, for instance, when he exits the motel and looks at the house, low notes begin to play, giving the audience the impression that the house is the place where it all happens.
As Arbogast walks up the forbidden steps of the Bates’ house, there is a long note being played, this again gives the sign of danger. As Bates runs out of the room the audience suddenly gets blasted with high pitched notes, this is effective as it is meant to scare everyone, as it does, and make the audience gasp thinking what will come next.
The high violins continue as Arbogast falls down the stairs. When he reaches the bottom, Bates stabs him; the violins beat hits when the knife is raised given an effect of pain and anguish. This kind of effect would be used most often in silent movies when there is a stabbing scene to dramatise the killing and here it is used just as brilliantly.