Psycho

 
Horror masterpiece definitely isn't for young kids.
  • Review Date: August 2, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 1960
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

One character has some major mother issues, and the other ones aren't innocent, either.

Violence

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.

Sex

Sex goes hand in hand with violence, although nothing revealing is shown. A couple is shown post-sex, though they are clothed.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this 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 children 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. 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 older children can enjoy the scares together.

What's the story?

In this Hitchcock classic, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals money from her boss' client and skips town. She drives for hours, 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?

QUALITY
 

PSYCHO is a classic, and for good reason. Everything about this film 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. Anyone who considers themselves a film buff must see this one. 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.

Families can talk 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 the film and look for clues to the ending, too.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 16, 1960
DVD release date:September 2, 2003
Cast:Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
Director:Alfred Hitchcock
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Thriller
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Psycho was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Written byAnonymous June 27, 2015
age 14+
 

60's Hitchcock film isn't graphic but scary

My rating:R for violence throughout,sexuality and scary images
Teen, 15 years old Written byCaptain_Tripps April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

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 kids 13 and up.
Parent Written byPlague December 14, 2009
age 12+
 

Psycho

All I have to say is... MASTERPIECE! Alfred Hitchcock = God.
Teen, 16 years old Written bythegodfather123456 April 29, 2011
age 11+
 

The greatest horror/suspense film of all times... a must-watch if you haven't already.

A masterpiece from the horror genre. Don't listen to people who don't know what they're talking about like Jadenp (reviewer below) who laughs at this film. IT WAS FROM THE 60'S!!!!!!!!!! Do you expect for it to be as visually scary as films like Signs? Of course not! Use your brain for once! You have to think about the tension that these characters are going through, then you can look at me and tell me it is scary. This is Hitchcock's masterpiece. One of my 10 favorite films of all-time. I'm not saying it's one of the 10 BEST. All of the performances are great, but by far the best thing in this film is how Hitchcock creates tension, and how he creates a great climax so when you're at the end, you will be totally satisfied. I promise you will be on the edge of your seat, biting your nails and when the ending enrolls itself, your jaw will be dropped. Psycho has also one of the greatest scenes of all-time, which is the famous Shower Scene. (NOTE that the Shower Scene is soooooo good that I capitalized it). P.S. Just because this film is in B&W does not give you any reason whatsoever to not watch it right away. Many other films on the greatest of all-time list are in B&W like Casablanca, Raging Bull, and It's a Wonderful Life.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass