Bates Motel neon

The new prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, A&E’s new series Bates Motel, is all sorts of unsettling, creepy and jarring.  First of all it has you cheering for Norman.  And you can’t help feel a little wrong about that.  We come to the re-introduction of the Bates Motel and that house–the original old house used to film Psycho–and its odd inhabitants, and recall that this was the first of the film villains that didn’t look like a traditional villain, making Psycho that much scarier.

Bates Motel, the series, is jarring in many ways.  Film actress Vera Farmiga (The Departed, The Manchurian Candidate, Source Code) with a bit of Psycho’s 1960 Vera Miles look, has an incredible role here to make her own as Norman’s mother Norma Bates.  In episode one “Nice Town You Picked, Norma,” Farmiga really dives right in.  One minute she’s a great, doting mom, happy and gleeful.  The next she is very dark and cold, spinning guilt trips onto her son at his every move.  Norma and son Norman–what is in a name?  There’s something at the core of their relationship the writers apparently haven’t scratched the surface with yet–they’re a little too close.  Viewers get some glimpses at a Mommie Dearest character in the making.  A school populated only by pretty girls who keep flocking around the nerdy Norman seems like a set-up for Norman as Stephen King’s Carrie.

Norman and Norma at soon to be Bates Motel Continue reading