Fear and Confusion in films Psycho and Carrie
In horror films, there is always one scene that opens up the perceived
realm of normality to that of fear and confusion. Directors and
authors alike use these scenes to show the change in the pace of the
film. In both the movie Psycho (1960) and Carrie (1976), shower scenes
are used to mark this epic turning point with sexuality, blood and
voyeurism; the most important ingredients to horror.
The idea of sneaking around and peering into forbidden places gives
just about everyone a thrill. Voyeurism is used strongly in both
Psycho and Carrie due to its ability to entice thrill in the viewer.
In Carrie, we start the scene by looking into a girls' high school
locker room; scantily clad or naked girls moving in slow-motion in
front of the camera give the thrill of both trespassing and the chance
of being caught. The camera gradually slides across the locker room
floor, slowly so as to allow us to look at the changing girls. We stop
at the last row and are slowly walked into the steamy row of showers
where we find a naked Carrie White (Sissy Spacek). In Psycho, after
Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) leaves Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) to
her room, he goes back to his office for a reason we're not quite
clear about yet. He hesitates at the wall between his office and
Marion's room, glancing around for anyone who might be watching him.
The room's under-lighting gives both Norman and the stuffed birds
around him an evil and devious look. Finally he looks at the wall and
removes a painting, a painting depicting the Rape of Lucretia, and
peephole into Marion's hotel room. He puts his eye up to the hole and
we are graced - 1 -
with the view of Marion in just a black bra and slip, the color
hinting to the illicitness of the moment. We are then given an extreme
close-up of Norman's eye, staring wide into the room; the view we have
gives us the thrill of actually being there, watching Marion undress.
This method of filming, giving the audience the sight of the
forbidden, adds thrill to the important scenes. Thrill only encourages
us to watch the movie more intently, on the edge of our seats.
Sexuality also adds a great deal of tension to the two scenes. We
watch as Marion drops her robe to the floor and steps gingerly into
the shower. Once in the shower, we are given a point-of-view shot of
the showerhead, a huge showerhead covering her entire body with clean,
warm water, cleansing her of her sins in an almost baptismal way. We
are allowed only collarbone-up shots of her in the shower, only hints
to her nakedness. We can only imagine what she looks like, giving the
audience the same thoughts that raced through Norman's mind as he
looked in on her through the peephole. Carrie is also highly
sexualized, more so given the fact that...