Reflections of a Hierophant: American Psycho
What made one of the most controversial books into one of the most successful independent films? Read my Reflection after the jump...
My decision to restart my Reflections of a Hierophant with the cult classic “American Psycho” wasn’t an easy one. I tossed around the idea of reviewing the original “Halloween” (overdone), “Friday the 13th” (don’t care enough), “Paranormal Activity” (not the right time), and even “Human Centipede” (not enough views). While pondering, I thought that I would just skip writing a Horror film review altogether and decided that I wanted to watch “American Psycho” (I’d been wanting to, but haven’t found the time). While witnessing the death of Paul Allen, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I just review ‘American Psycho’?” While it’s not really a Horror film, it does have Horror aspects and is constantly clumped into lists of Horror movies by most viewers. It also happens to be one of my favorite movies and one of Christian Bale’s greatest performances. The protagonist and antagonist of the film is a character that has so clearly influenced another fantastic character, Dexter Morgan. “American Psycho” has left it’s mark not only in Hollywood, but around the world. So, without further delay, here is my reflection on the cult THRILLER, “American Psycho.”
I’ve got address the matter of calling this a Horror movie as opposed to a Thriller. While it is true that moments of “American Psycho” resemble Horror films (namely the murders), it simply isn’t a Horror movie. In the Horror genre, the goal is for the audience to go home feeling like they need to check every nook and cranny of their house before they go to bed in the event that a ghost or a horribly scarred pseudo-zombies are lurking. Not to mention the overused clichés like jump scares and dumb bimbos running into scary woods when they should be running to the car 5 feet away are absent from “American Psycho.” In-fact, the one time we have a dumb “bimbo” running away from our killer, she is heading downstairs towards the exit just like real people would. No, this movie is a Thriller and should always be called such (if we really want to get into it, though, the movie is a deeper and twisted look into the 80‘s culture of vanity and avarice).
“American Psycho” is a first-person story narrated by Patrick Bateman, a 27 year old wealthy investment banker. Patrick Bateman is a seemingly normal man, but with a dark passenger (get it?). While the book is roughly 400 pages, the task of cutting it down so that it fit into a 1 ½ hour movie was given to Mary Harron (also the Director) and Guinevere Turner. In the book, the transitions from his daytime persona to the Mr. Hyde he becomes at nightfall (add a “k” for a Batman reference) are done in such a strategically haphazard way that it begged for an attempt at mirroring said effects when it was adapted. Especially in this aspect, Harron and Turner succeeded magnificently. The movie blurs the line between what is real and what is a hallucination so beautifully that, even at the end, you’re left scratching your head wondering if anything you saw actually happened. In most movies, this might be annoying. But, for “American Psycho,” it was essential and wonderful.
What really makes this movie work so well is yet another brilliant performance by Christian Bale. Unlike the other actors who met with Director Mary Harron (Billy Crudup, Brad Pitt, and Edward Norton to name a few), who focused on why Patrick Bateman was the way he was, he fixated on how truly pathetic Bateman was. Bale distancing himself from the rest of the cast helped to provide the darkness that Bateman oozes. While, at first glance, Patrick Bateman seems like a cool guy that every guy would want to be. But, with a closer look, we can see that Patrick Bateman is a dork who tries too hard to fit in. Bale really does such a fantastic job at capturing the ridiculousness of the duality in Bateman’s mind. Christian Bale will send chills down your spine with his cold gaze and disconcerting interpretation of Bret Easton Ellis‘s title character.
Overall, this is a fantastic film that I recommend to everyone. It’s a Psychological Thriller that still leaves me scratching my head even after numerous viewings. From the wonderful direction, to Jared Leto’s decent performance, to Christian Bale’s disturbingly convincing presentation (makes you think that maybe Shane Hurlbut got off easy), it’s a top-notch movie that should’ve been given recognition by the Academy and the HFPA. But, as per usual, they turn a blind eye to proper good movies…
P.S. I realize it is a day past Halloween. I went to see “Paranormal Activity 3” last night. And, it seems that maybe the time is right for a Reflection… on the “Paranormal Activity” series…
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