I didn’t see PSYCHO until I was into my 20s, by which time I knew the shower scene wasn’t the climax of the film. Or maybe it was and always has been, but the movie just climaxes early. Relatable.
78/52 is an examination of those 78 cuts in those 52 seconds that make up the shower sequence. (You know the one. Reenh—reenh—reenh, knifey-knifey, stabby-stabby.) But much more so than an examination of the shots and how they’re cut together over time, it’s an examination of the cultural values and norms that went into making PSYCHO, the original act of cinematic subversion.
It’s about Norman Bates. A voyeur like the rest of us or an avatar of impotent male rage? Equally valid interpretations, both supported by the text of the film and 20th century society. Interpretations on interpretations are put forth by everyone from Bret Easton Ellis (yuck, ugh) to Mick Garris (no words have ever brought anything more into clarity for me than “Mick Garris: director, PSYCHO IV”) to the biggest get of all: Janet Leigh’s body double. Hitchcock himself is included through archival footage of interviews and, of course, the original six minute trailer.