23 years after the original and three years after Hitchcock’s death, Universal Studios dared to make a sequel to the classic. The author of the original book, Robert Bloch, hade written his own sequel, which’s plot centered around a Hollywood-adaptation of the original murders. This kind of meta-storytelling and critique on Hollywood-politics didn’t suit the studio, so they mad their own version of the sequel.
After 22 years in psychiatric treatment, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is seemingly cured. He returns to his mother’s house, gets a job as a dishwasher at the local diner, and also resumes ownership of his family’ motel. But after receiving mysterious and hateful notes and phone calls by his “mother”, he starts to doubt his sanity again, and not long after taking in the young waitress Mary Samuels (Meg Tilly), a murder spree is starting again.
Let’s start with the obvious: “Psycho II” is not as good as the original. The movie is even self-aware of that fact, as it starts the film with the famous shower scene from the original. It doesn’t have any significance to the plot what’s so ever. It is just a reminder of a far better movie. That said, is the sequel a bad movie? Not at all.
The acting is quite solid. Perkins may not have been the best actor, but he was the definite actor for Norman Bates, and he shines in this movie when he is struggling with his darker side. Plotwise it’s the story of a man trying to refit into society, always tortured by inner demons as well as outer influences. There is a great scene in which Bates noticeable struggles to hand over the key to room number 1 to a waiting guest.
The movie also succeeds in recapturing the storytelling of the first one by changing the tone and theme halfway through. Viewers are constantly asking themselves whether Norman Bates has succumbed to his insanity again or if someone else is toying with him. On the other hand, society really seems to have forgiven him, and is willing to give him a second chance.
The cinematography is also very nice, as the filmmakers try to give new perspectives on the Bates house.
All in all, “Psycho II” is a sequel worth watching. There are enough twists and turns to keep you interesting, and it give you an insight in a former psychopath trying to redeem himself. Just always keep in mind that it can’t be as good as the original, though it doesn’t try so.