Psycho: Some interesting subtext in a film that reeks of artificiality

Such is Alfred Hitchcock’s influence on cinema that it’s hard to process words like psycho and vertigo without images from his films flashing in your head. Mysskin’s Psycho begins with a dedication to the master filmmaker, with some of the film’s ideas bearing quite a few similarities to Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). The handsome psychopath, the disapproving, emasculating matriarch, the man-woman team to take down the murderer… There’s even maternal sympathy getting accorded to the psychopath. Its end though reminded me of a film, about a sociopath, that’s our own: Selvaraghavan’s Kadhal Kondein. Unlike in Hitchcock’s Psycho though, there’s no mystery concerning the killer’s identity here. The first scene of this film, before the title, shows him decapitating his victim. Given the lack of suspense over the killer’s identity, this horror film’s main draw then is to entertain you through thrills resulting from his pursuit. Can the visually challenged hero, Gautham (Udhayanidhi Stalin), do what the police aren’t able to? Can the damsel in distress, Dahini (Aditi Rao Hydari)—who doesn’t show the slightest effort to save herself—be saved by her ‘daredevil’ suitor?

It was quite a relief to see, for once, a horror film that isn’t frightened of itself. Too many of our films about murderers seem too squeamish about gore and violence, but Psycho has the stomach for it, and an appropriate censor certificate to boot. Heads are severed, headless bodies are displayed, throats are slit… And yet, strangely, none of this creates any visceral reaction. The stunning lack of investment you feel with Psycho’s world and its characters are, however, not for want of interesting ideas. They are all there. It’s interesting that the two people in pursuit of the killer are both differently abled, and how together, they form a conventional physical ‘whole’ for the purposes of this story. The man lacks eyesight, but as it turns out, that’s all the woman is able to offer, in matters of physical ability, as they both look to achieve their respective fulfillment. It’s interesting that the film attempts to show that the really broken person is one who doesn’t look so. The killer is handsome, and as a sex worker qualifies this in the film, “Chocolate madhri mozhu ozhu nu cinema star madhiri irukaan.” All of this is interesting, but this is all the subtext. The actual events are barely emotionally affecting, and don’t thrill as they should.

(Continued in below link)

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