Vacancy at the ‘Bates Motel’

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By JACOB MCKEE

Staff Writer

On Monday, March 18, A&E premiered their first-ever scripted television series, “Bates Motel,” based on the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie “Psycho.” 

“Psycho” also happens to be one of this reviewer’s favorite films, so needless to say, I was intrigued by the concept. 

The show revolves around a teenage Norman Bates, played by Freddie Highmore, You might recognize him from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or “August Rush,” amongst other films. 

Highmore plays the classic character exactly on point; his nuanced performance is one of the show’s highlights. 

Perhaps the biggest hit of the show, however, is the character of Norma Bates, Norman’s mother.  

Though she is a prominent figure in “Psycho,” she is only fleetingly seen in the film. 

Vera Farmiga plays the mother in the television show, and she shines. 

You might have seen her in recent art-house flicks like “Up in the Air” or “The Departed,” but here, she takes on a completely different type of role than I’ve ever seen from her before, and she nails it. 

The show is a bit forced at times, and it seems like it is really working hard to find the right level of “Psycho” influence. 

Since “Bates Motel” is modernized, it isn’t the most traditional prequel, but it wouldn’t be successful without the occasional callback. 

Watch out for birdcages and showers, which are abundant in this first episode. 

Another interesting thing to note: in the original film, Marion Crane stops at the Bates Motel after leaving Arizona, and in this television series, the Bates family, too, has migrated to their little slice of paradise from Arizona. 

Coincidence? I don’t think so. 

Keep an eye on this scary little show. 

With shows like “American Horror Story” and “The Walking Dead” picking up momentum every day, the door might be open for psychological horror to become a more welcome genre in America’s living rooms. 

And Bates Motel aims to take that opportunity and flourish.

Bates Motel airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. on A&E.