By Sarah Wenk,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Classic Hitchcock horror masterpiece still thrills.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No real positive messages.
Positive Role Models
One character has some major mother issues, and even the protagonists aren't innocent, as they steal money and have affairs.
Violence & Scariness
The iconic shower scene never shows the knife touching flesh, but there is blood, and the character's dead face and eyes are shown up close. There are also several very frightening scenes involving a corpse. A man is stabbed, with slash marks across his face.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple is shown post-sex, though they are clothed. A man spies on a woman as she removes her blouse, revealing her bra. Nudity in shower scene but nothing sensitive shown.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some drinking, but no one acts drunk. Cigarette smoking. A secretary makes reference to taking tranquilizers to help her with her headaches.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Psycho is one of the scariest movies ever made, even though it's far less explicit than a lot of what's in theaters now. Still, this is a frightening movie, and judgment should be used about which kids will enjoy it and which will find it disturbing. The famous shower scene never shows the knife touching flesh, but it's still terrifying. There are also several very frightening scenes involving a corpse. On a less scary note, a character steals money from her boss' client, and a couple is shown post-sex, though they are clothed. There's some drinking and smoking. That said, this is a classic of filmmaking, one of the most influential and respected films ever made. It's terrifying and brilliant, and families with teens can enjoy the scares together.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Based on 42 parent reviews
A horror classic
Report this review
15+ Rating is a little extreme; fine for teenagers
Report this review
What's the Story?
In PSYCHO, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals money from her boss' client and skips town. She drives for hours and then, exhausted and nervous, stops in a remote area at the Bates Motel, run by Norman Bates (a delightfully creepy Anthony Perkins). Norman is cheerful, but he's nervous and hiding something. He invites Marion to share some dinner with him and mentions his overbearing mother (whose silhouette is seen in a window of the big looming house that sits on the hill just above the motel). Norman's hobby is taxidermy, and he also happens to have in his possession the extra key to Marion's room ...
Is It Any Good?
This Hitchcock film is a classic, and for good reason. Everything about Psycho is perfection, from the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography to every single performance to the famous Bernard Herrmann soundtrack to some of the most suspenseful and frightening scenes ever filmed. If you consider yourself a film buff, this is a must-see. There is some real violence in this film, but it's not at all explicit, making it in some ways scarier than the gore-fests that are so popular now.
It's a film that works on many levels. It's truly scary, but it's also a psychological mystery and a couple of different kinds of love story. All the performances are excellent, and the screenplay is top-notch, but Hitchcock is the real star, manipulating the audience in every frame, making it perfect for repeat viewing -- there's always something new to see. It's a great way to introduce older kids to Hitchcock and may spark interest in his other wonderful films.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Hitchcock's style and techniques and the way he uses the camera and lighting to tell the story. It's fun to go back over Psycho and look for clues to the ending, too.
Much of the violence in this movie is implied rather than shown, unlike so many horror movies that have been released since Psycho. Does implied violence seen scarier to you than graphic violence? Why, or why not?
What are some of the ways in which this movie is a classic, and how is it also very much rooted in the time when it was released?
- In theaters: June 16, 1960
- On DVD or streaming: September 2, 2003
- Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 29, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Best Horror Movies
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate