TV review: Bates Motel
- Henry Northmore
- 23 January 2014
Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga star in the prequel to Hitchcock's Psycho
Alfred Hitchcock’s proto-slasher Psycho is rightly considered a celluloid classic. Anthony Perkins was truly iconic as schizophrenic killer Norman Bates so it’s unsurprising that the film’s legacy has been plundered on more than one occasion including three sequels, a shot-by-shot remake and now a TV spin off, Bates Motel. Despite the retro sets and costumes, the series takes place in the modern world but to all intents and purposes works as a prequel to the original 1960 film. The real key to the show is seeing the relationship between ‘Mother’ (Vera Farmiga) and the young Norman (Freddie Highmore) that sets the fledgling serial killer on a path to madness. We watch them move into the dilapidated motel and become embroiled in the criminal underworld of White Pine Bay, a town steeped in drug money and human trafficking. And if you can get past the sacrilegious idea of meddling with Hitchcock's sublime thriller, you'll find plenty to enjoy in Bates Motel’s twisting narrative. It might play fast and loose with the source material (did you know Norman had a brother?) but Farmiga and Highmore are particularly strong. We all know where this is heading but they make it an intriguing road to travel on nonetheless.