Bates Motel is an American television series falling under the horror genre. Revealing Norman Bates’ decline in sanity, the series focuses on his teenage years prior to his life depicted in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
I have just finished watching the first season and it has left me addicted to the mystery. Every character has drifted into the plot with a secret. It often feels like there is an edge of competitiveness between characters, to uphold the appearance of normality, in their mangle of complicated relationships.
To summarise these characters:
Norman is just a bit weird.
Dylan is very protective (of himself and others).
Bradley is secretive.
Emma always looks like she wants to cry.
And Norma is just plain crazy.
It’s an interesting bunch to say the least! I think the actors and actresses do a great job of portraying them.
Perhaps the most odd, and central relationship of this series, is the one between Norman and his mother, Norma. After escaping tragedy, they move to the desolate motel, but soon become involved in a twisted sequence of living nightmares. While they desperately try to avoid the echoes of their past, their relationship is challenged but ultimately, the immense intensity between Norman and Norma is revealed. From the very beginning there is an awkward connection between them that intrigues question towards the influence they each have on the others psyche. Although they prefer their privacy and seclusion, they make a point of indulging themselves with the interesting characters lurking in the quirky town. This is when they learn that not everything is as it seems, firstly in their new world and then between themselves.
As I mentioned in my introduction, this series is classified under the horror genre (IMDB) which is my favourite. I have seen quite a variety of different horrors and would personally place this on the more relaxed end of the spectrum. To compare, it would probably fall somewhere in line with Christine by Stephen King. There’s mystery and tension between characters, but it doesn’t keep me up at night wondering if someone’s hiding in my wardrobe! I’ve heard other people describe it as ‘creepy’ and that is probably the best way. You can’t watch this series without questioning any of the character’s sanity.
For the film buffs and media students out there, I wouldn’t necessarily say the cinematography fits into extreme conventions of the horror genre, or at least no camera men had to go sneaking around in the bushes to get them “stalker shots”. However, Psycho also displays a few similar techniques to Bates Motel, and is now acclaimed as a ‘work of cinematic art’ (Wikipedia). Comparable angles and shots are used when character’s interact with each other, or when a sequence of clips parallel the implicit and explicit such as when Norman and Norma are in the car looking out on the town. It’s a nice homage and touch of the originality poised by Hitchcock. Although I think the filming style is quite simplistic (despite its HUGE budget (IMDB)), I do like it a lot. I like that I can be relaxed while still wondering what’s going to happen. I like that I’m not distracted from the essence of the story.
I would really recommend this series to those who want to be involved in the mysterious aspect without being too frightened to enjoy it. For horror lovers, I wouldn’t expect too much from the series, as you may be disappointed with the lack of scares.
Regardless, I definitely intend to continue watching.
If you want to find this series, the first three seasons are currently on Netflix – hopefully they will upload the fourth and then the fifth, and final season, which is due to come out next year. If you watch it or have seen it already, I’d love to know what you think… Just no spoilers please!