Cinemaster Score: 9/10
American Psycho is quite a remarkable film to say the least. This film has one very strong, central point that makes it stand out among the rest in the slasher genre. That key point being that American Psycho is deeply interesting and written to be thought-provoking. That would be due to its strong influence from the book of the same name that has been adapted here. First and foremost is the acting ability in Christian Bale, bringing the character to life in the best ways. Then there’s the added realism of characters that differ and separate completely from static, one-dimensional stereotypes in other slashers. Also, keep in mind that Harron risked her career in adapting something so controversial – providing an all or nothing scenario that makes you take on its full disturbing form. For some the story may seem like an excuse to create a film more repulsive than others in the genre, as it definitely does go a little too far at times. But, the story feels like a retelling of reality rather than something original. The quality of realism is due in large part to a very well-written script overlapping once senseless violence – giving forth depth amongst the terror. American Psycho – if you can stomach it – is an amazing film that has aged well and should not be forgotten.
Acting; American Psycho is thoroughly well acted throughout, with its strongest performance being Christian Bale. He puts in his most twisted role yet as the main anarchist in our story. In his defining role (of which he should have been nominated for), Bale brings a character vividly to life – embodying him in nearly every way. Before accepting the role, Bale was told that taking the job would be career suicide. He took that warning and completely cast it aside, giving us a tour de force performance for the ages. Reese Witherspoon, Willem Dafoe, and Jared Leto are also wonderful in this film – each of their characters being acted with an equal amount of dedication. Though they are eclipsed by Bale’s demented character work, the acting in American Psycho is top-notch across the board.
Script; American Psycho may be the best written slasher to ever come about. The way Patrick Bateman (the antagonist played by Christian Bale) narrates his thoughts throughout the film is chilling. Each character has lines that perfectly outline how smug and cocky they truly are. However, without the addition of Bale’s narration the movie would be dragged out into a confusing bore. American Psycho is as amazing as it is because it’s a psychological drama while maintaining slasher styles. Bateman is an all-American psychopath in the purest form, which is easy to tell from his words and thoughts. The script throws you for well-balanced loops – going from deeply twisted, to casual, to violently aggressive. American Psycho’s script may be complex, but it works in astonishing ways.
Characters; Take a nice long look at the people in society. They all have their own natures and quirks. Then glance around until you find American Psycho. The characters present are represented in extreme realism. If they were put into our everyday society directly, the mix would be nearly unnoticeable. From basic characters such as Paul (Jared Leto) and Jean (Chloë Sevigny) to the likes of Patrick Bateman himself, the blended natures are present. Though the characters aren’t all likable they remain seamlessly real, especially in comparison to the stereotypical slasher. Bateman especially is uniquely diverse and dynamic, being a believable psychopath. When compared to just about any other horror film, it is hard to say any compete with the level of character design in American Psycho.
Direction; Mary Harron, (who was risking her career with this silver screen adaptation as well), gave American Psycho a distinct vibe that resonates for many. This feature is a black comedy disguised as a serial killer flick, with its tone matching the 80’s pop setting while also being bleak in its own way. Harron made a faithful adaption to the controversial book that was highly graphic and impactful. Her willingness to work with a small budget, a small-time actor, and stick closely to the twisted source material was well worth it. Harron somehow manages to balance all the key elements of the book and make it into one slick and subversive film. It will be remembered in large part to Christian Bale – but is still a tremendous achievement for Harron, who stuck with her singular vision for most of the creative process. Thus making American Psycho a timeless example of a unique mind and a willingness to cross the line for the sake of quality.
Story; American Psycho’s story is so beautifully crafted it’s kind of hard to digest. The story is rather simple in the big picture, though that doesn’t mean it’s bad. To summarize a little without giving away the best parts – despite it being almost 20 years of age – American Psycho is a slasher from the killer’s perspective. That description is surely accurate but really doesn’t do it justice. The central character Patrick Bateman is a maniac. He’s seemingly an everyday guy but has homicidal tendencies that grow out of control as the film progresses. The way the story is told and narrated by Bateman gives it this sort of charm that is hard to resist once it’s begun. American Psycho does what few slashers are capable of – immersing audiences fully in the story rather than just the gore and mindless slasher sense. The story in American Psycho is a gem that really is the centerpiece in the film’s gallery of successful pieces.
Enjoyment; While some may find the subject matter repulsive, others will be enticed by the twisted message of American Psycho. It is equal parts disturbing and (strangely) enjoyable. Watching the fractured persona of Patrick Bateman is mesmerizing, especially in part to Bale’s performance. American Psycho is wickedly dry in its humor, and will not appeal to some who deem it excessive. To others, it will make you laugh at the unique perspective it provides on our society. Such satirical comedy is still relevant today, making for an entertaining film that not only shocks, but informs. Such a combination is rare in today’s cinema landscape, which is why American Psycho is such an enthralling blast full of colorful characters and unique societal commentary.
David: “I see American Psycho as the kind of film we all know shouldn’t be adored, but find hard not to. As long as you’re able to push past some extensively R-rated sequences, the film is quite amazing. Patrick Bateman is undoubtedly one of the most captivating characters I’ve seen in cinema. His characterization being combined with social commentary and other key components make American Psycho one of my favorites.”
JP: “I absolutely love American Psycho, not just because of Christian Bale (who is tremendous), but because of how unique and relevant it still is today. It’s got amazing actors, a dark sense of humor, and a mind bending story full of twists and shocks. There isn’t a better reflection of how twisted our society is, and American Psycho isn’t afraid to show the worst of it. This is the kind of film that will stay in your head for years.”