Alfred Hitchcock’s, 1960 film, Psycho, is a horror film that relies largely on suspense to build tension and unsettle the audience throughout the film, waiting for the murders to be uncovered and knowing how close the characters are to discovering the crimes. The film is shot in black and white and the accompanying sound track is also monochromatic in the sense that there is only one layer to the sound, but this makes it even more successful. The film is as film critic R. L. Shaffer stated in, Psycho: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review, ‘A Masterful suspense and horror from one of the greats.’ [Shaffer, 2010] due to how the audience know more than the characters do, allowing the suspense to build as the audience wait for this to be revealed to the characters.

Fig. 1 Psycho Poster (1960)

The story uses suspense as part of the narrative, using this to affect what the character is thinking how this will affect their actions. Such as when Marion is being followed by the Police officer and the shots keep switching between the view of him in the rear view mirror and her driving, with him edging closer, the shots are aimed to increases the tension of whether or not she will be caught. This can be seen in Fig. 2 below where she is driving and the car behind is seen following her and her thoughts can easily be read by her reactions to this. The suspense created at the beginning of the film grows throughout as the film takes more dramatic turns, making it a successful horror film and making it what film critic David Nusair called in his article, The Films of Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Psycho lives up to its reputation as one of the most entertaining and suspenseful horror films of all time’ [Nusair, 2010], due to how Hitchcock makes us aware of things that the characters don’t know and allows the suspense to constantly build throughout the film until these are revealed.

Fig. 2 Marion Followed (1960)

The soundtrack that accompanies Psycho, matches the black and white film by being simple and one layered, but makes it more successful by how harsh this can make the noises when there is no other sounds. The most famous part of the soundtrack being the music during the shower scene, which accompanies the timing of the attack in a way that makes it more dramatic and increases the shock felt by the audience when this occurs, carrying on the tension by how the music carries on afterwards. The film successfully creates suspense the entire way through and created the way for many ‘slasher’ films to follow, but everything about this film has become iconic because of how successfully Hitchcock made it as a review, Psycho, stated for Film4, ‘The music, the setting, the shower scene, the mother in the cellar... everything about this iconic film has passed into cinema history.’ [Film4, 2007] many of these elements have become common in horror films now, but none are as successful.

Film4. (2007) Psycho. At: (Accessed 24/02/14) Nusair, D. (2010) The Films of Alfred Hitchcock. At: (Accessed 24/02/14) Shaffer, R. (2010) Psycho: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review. At: (Accessed 24/02/14)

Illustrations List
Fig. 1 Psycho Poster (1960) [Poster] At: (Accessed 24/02/14) Fig. 2 Marion Followed. (1960) From: Psycho. Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. [Film Still] United States: Paramount Pictures. (Accessed 24/02/14)