What techniques used in Hitchcock films make them disturbing to watch?   

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The iconic film director, Alfred Hitchcock, uses many techniques that make his films disturbing.  I'm going to talk about two here:  suspense and irony.  Alfred Hitchcock uses both techniques in many of his movies.  I thought it would be fun to examine these techniques in his movie Psycho.

First, suspense is simply the ability of an author or a director to make the audience feel intense anticipation (and in the case of horror, dread) about what is going to happen next.  The famous "shower scene" of Psycho is a perfect example of this.  Norman Bates has been stalking Marion Crane as soon as she checked into his motel.  Each small detail from Bates' creepy manner to his pastime of peeking at Marion through a small hole in the wall fill us with dread as Marion steps into the shower with us knowing that "something" is going to happen.  Sure enough someone, presumably Bates' mother, stabs Marion to death.

Second, the irony at the end of the film is incredibly disturbing.  We find out that Norman Bates actually is his mother, ... as he has brought her back to life in his mind after murdering her and preserving her body.  The psychological implications of this man being so far from our idea of "normal" although not bloody and gory, fills the audience with fear of this kind of psychological abnormality.

As a result of these techniques (and others) as well as its positive critical reviews and award nominations, Psycho is generally considered one of Alfred Hitchcock's best films.  Horror movie fans (like me) enjoy being disturbed.  In fact, I've seen so very many of these films now, that I have to give the director props if he/she is actually able to scare me, ... which doesn't happen very often.