Psycho

Movie review by
Sarah Wenk, Common Sense Media
Psycho Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Classic Hitchcock horror masterpiece still thrills.
  • NR
  • 1960
  • 109 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 41 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 131 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The main characters are all flawed, if not deeply disturbed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

One character has some major mother issues, and even the protagonists aren't innocent, as they steal money and have affairs.

Violence

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. 

Sex

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.

Language
Consumerism
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. 

What 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.

Wondering if Psycho is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjcmcdowell December 21, 2019

Amazing film!

This film isn’t scary at all! It’s not explicit enough for the R rating. It may have been frightening to audiences back when it was released, but we can make sc... Continue reading
Adult Written byhnlntm October 27, 2019

True classic

This is an awesome film, that has aged pretty well. Context for my review, my kids are 9 and 11 they are mature for their age. They are new to scary films and I... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byCaptain_Tripps April 9, 2008

One of my Favorite Films of All Time

Perfect for any horror fan. Parents won't have to worry about sex, language, or gore, but keep in mind the film is very scary. This is probably okay for... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byiwilloffmyself May 31, 2020

15 is way too high

very important movie if you want to culture your children, at most the sex is, seeing a lady's stomach and the violence is in black and white and not gory... Continue reading

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? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate