One technique used to create tension was lighting. In the shower scene, for example he creates a very light lit bathroom. Hitchock uses darkness and shadows to hide and to make the audience feel uncomfortable, as if something was about to occur. Hitchock purposely dimmed the light to obscure the audience’s view of the intruder. When the intruder enters the audience just sees a shadow creep up which causes dramatic irony. The light makes the large figure of a man look smaller. The murderer could be ‘mother’ at this point. Hitchock lights each character differently during the attack. Marion is brightly lit (as in the parlour scene) and the killer is darkly lit (as was Norman in the parlour scene). This makes the audience feel differently about each character because of the connotations of lightness and darkness. After the murder, Marion’s dead body lies on the floor; her head is lit brightly, to give the impression of evil or danger. During the parlour scene when Marion and Norman are talking the light is constantly changing from light to dark when Norman is talking. This creates tension because you feel in suspense as if something is going to happen. Another great example of the lighting used is during the discovery of Mrs. Bates scene. As Marion discovers Mrs. Bates she screams knocking a light bulb swinging. This swinging light bulb imitates the skeleton face as if it moving, it creates a sadistic smile that then creates suspense and tension.
Hitchock also used music. An example of this is during the discovery of Mrs. Bates scene because the music is short sharp and this creates suspense and means that danger is probably on the way. This causes the audience to become extremely tense. This is quite similar throughout the film; for example, the violin is repeated to represent both stabbing and screaming. For example in the shower scene Marion is being murdered, this loud shrieking music is repeated in the discovery of Mrs. Bates scene and the second murder of Arbaghast. During the discovery of Mrs. Bates the tension is relieved then built up again by the use of music. The pace of the music gets faster and dramatic as Norman is running up to the house. Throughout the film the music is always there, string and bass play the deep, dark and evil music. The string and bass do a very good job at creating tension and suspense.
Hitchock used a variety of camera shots and angles to create. An example of this is during is the shower scene, when Hitchock zooms in on the victim’s eye. This makes the audience feel sad and mislead, after when Marion was murdered there is a camera shot that spirals in towards her. The tear in her eye represents the water. The low music represents the last gasp for breath. When Marion died her eyes where still open, which asks the question, dead or alive? This was because it was very unusual to kill of your main actress in the first third of your film. Also when Marion is undressing Hitchock used long editing to prolong this sequence. This heightens the tension, as we have already seen Norman peeking in the parlour scene. The longer we wait the tenser we get. When Marion enters the shower the camera focuses on her washing. She is vulnerable because she is naked and has no means of escape in this isolated motel. The camera spends a long time focusing on her washing this indicates to the audience that something is about to happen. In addition to this, we also see Marion’s point of view looking at the silhouette of her killer whilst he is stabbing her. This manipulates the audience a great deal because the audience are feeling hurt at this time as Marion is being murdered. It is almost as if Marion’s pain is the audiences pain. The audience is deliberately put in Marion’s perspective and they see themselves being stabbed. This has the effect of making the scene horrific. The shots of the actual attack are subliminal shots make the audiences heart rate increase, making them more irritable and hotter and therefore more tense.
Finally, Hitchock also used dialogue to create tension and suspense. This can be seen in the parlour scene because he adds some very meaningful text, for example ‘A boys best friend his mother’ this suggests how strong his relationship with his mother could have been. Also Marion suggests putting mother in an institution. Norman reacts quite angrily and bites back. However his relationship with his mother wasn’t all that good because there is a sense of jealousy when Norman says ‘a son is a poor substitute for a lover’ which may suggest why he killed his mother and her lover, the fact that he was jealous suggests he wanted his own back. When Norman bites back at Marion this creates an air of suspense as they weren’t getting along.
Therefore in conclusion I would say that Hitchock creates suspense and tension very well in the film ‘Psycho’. He uses lighting, music, camera shots/angles, dialogue to a great effect. These techniques are also very effective in creating tension and suspense especially the lighting and music. Hitchock took the traditional ideas and made them fresh, new and exiting.