Bates Motel: Many will check in, few will check out
Posted March 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm in Lifestyle
Fifty-three years ago, Alfred Hitchcock chilled moviegoers with the release of Psycho, one of the only horror films to make it onto the American Film Instituteâs top-100 list, Psycho tells the story of an attractive 30-something secretary who steals a lump sum of money from a prominent client and then leaves town. Her decision to stop at the Bates Motel is when the trouble begins. There, she encounters Norman Bates. Unbeknownst to her, beneath Normanâs friendly all-American facade lies a killer with a disturbing attachment to his long-deceased mother. Since the filmâs release, the character of Norman Bates has inspired a cult-like following, prompting three sequels which delve into the past of one of the most iconic killers in cinema history. Over the years, however, fans have remained puzzled by questions about the dark secrets of Normanâs youth.
To the delight of horror fans old and new, more of Normanâs past comes to light on March 18, when A&E Network will air Bates Motel, a Psycho-inspired television series that follows the day-to-day struggles of 17-year-old Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother, Norma Louise Bates (Vera Farmiga). Bates Motel documents the familyâs move to White Pine Bay, a serene, utopian town on the Oregon coast. There they buy a secluded motel in an attempt to start their lives over. But as the Bates family begins to settle in, they find themselves incapable of leaving old habits behind when they discover that the residents of their new hometown also have a few skeletons in their closets.
Farmiga seems to be a wise casting selection, as the actress has experience playing the mother of a bad seed. Previously, she played Isabelle Furhmanâs mother in the 2009 film Orphan and Jacob Koganâs mother in the 2007 film Joshua. Farmiga is also a real-life mother of two and will be able to bring her personal understanding of the unbreakable bond between mother and child to the role of Norma Bates.
Though the selection of Highmore to play Norman comes as a surprise to some (the role is a big jump from Highmoreâs most well-known role, the innocent Charlie Bucket in Tim Burtonâs Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) it is likely that the boyish innocence Highmore projects might very well have drawn producers to him. With his youthful face and socially awkward mannerisms, his behavior resembles that of Anthony Perkins, who played Norman in Hitchcockâs Psycho.
Nestor Carbonell, who plays the town sheriff on the new show, said the exploration of Normanâs childhood is exciting because it incorporates details of the film series, but manages to have its own distinct voice.
âItâs an incredible re-imagining of the original Psycho,â Carbonell said in a Behind the Scenes A&E Network video.
For executive producer Kerry Ehrin, it was important to show that beyond the bloody mother-son bonding activities and the incestuous nature of Norman and Normaâs relationship, the pair has a relationship that has many genuine, human qualities and experiences â experiences that can be found in any parent-child relationship.
âWhat parent doesnât, on some level, want to hang onto their kid as long as possible?â Ehrin wrote on AETV.com. âWhat kid doesnât want to have their motherâs complete devotion and approval somewhere along the line?â
Another interesting detail about the plot is that the story will take place in the present â in an age where everyone owns a smartphone with 911 on speed dial â rather than during the 1950s when, if following the Hitchcock timeline, Norman Bates would have been a young boy.
âBates Motel shouldnât play it like âNorman Bates with an iPhone.â Modern technology devices should be used in the series as throw-away props, not something to focus the characters into this modern day setting,â said Michael Breiburg, a former film editor at Bischoff Hervey Entertainment.
The premiere episode of Bates Motel, titled âFirst You Dream, Then You Die,â airs on A&E Network on Monday, March 18 at 10 p.m.. So, hurry to your televisions Ââ itâs almost check-in time.