I couldn’t think of a clever title for this one, sorry guys.
I’m not usually much a fan for horror or slasher movies. There are a few exceptions, namely the Alien movies (Alien is a slasher, right? Or did I just start an argument?), but generally I’m not into movies all about serial killers. Not unless the main character is Sherlock Holmes and it’s a mystery movie.
American Psycho is a strange exception. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it. There’s a lot of really clever stuff that I love. But would I call it a cinematic masterpiece? Not quite.
Patrick Bateman is a perfectly normal man. He works a high-paying job, he’s got a beautiful fiancé, he snorts cocaine with his friends in the club, and he’s an emotionless psychopath who enjoys brutally murdering people. And as the film progresses, his urge to kill only progressively gets worse. Will his descent into insanity spell the end of him? Or will the American Psycho get away with it?
Christian Bale’s performance in this movie is downright mesmerizing. For most of the run, he’s this cold and emotionless machine. Even when he’s interacting with others, every word out of his mouth feels forced and false. It’s only when he’s preparing to kill someone and/or actually killing them does he show emotion. When he does, Patrick Bateman’s emotions come out in a massive explosion, such as his pure giddiness leading up to his killing Paul Allen or his pure frothing rage when he’s chasing the prostitute down the hall with a chainsaw.
On top of that, his descent into madness is masterfully done! Throughout the film, you can see small hints and glimpses of how monstrous Patrick is. He goes home with a model, and the next day he’s playing with a lock of blonde hair. Then, near the end of the movie, all hell breaks loose and we see exactly how sick this bastard is in GRUESOME detail. It’s a horrifying, uncomfortable, and masterful pay-off to all the buildup!
Music is incorporated into the movie in a really clever way. The original score isn’t anything particularly memorable or interesting. But it does a smart job of incorporating insert music into the narrative so that the songs don’t feel intrusive. Fuck, dude, the ‘Hip to be Square’ scene is the best part of the whole movie!
Although seeing Jared Leto die via an axe to the face is probably the real reason for that.
To wrap up the positivity train: I love how unintentionally funny this movie can be sometimes. Because this movie can definitely feel like a comedy at times. All of the performances are stiff and awkward (sometimes intentionally, mostly not), and some of the scenes are just flat-out ridiculous. My personal favorite is the business card exchange scene; in or out of context, that shit is hysterical!
Now, let’s talk about the things I didn’t really enjoy. Luckily, this list is pretty short.
Pacing is my biggest issue with this movie. It never really feels like the movie is going anywhere. Scenes keep happening with very little connecting the two together. It’s a whole lot of scenes of Patrick being creepy or awkward and having conversations that don’t impact the plot at all. It isn’t until the last half hour of the film that everything starts to flow together.
Another big issue is that some of the plots never go anywhere. The biggest disappointment for me was Willem Dafoe’s character. Dafoe playing a detective to Bale’s serial killer should have been a slam dunk! But Dafoe just straight-up vanishes from the film; you can cut him out of the movie entirely and it wouldn’t change anything!
Finally, we have my last point: the ending. Honestly, I’m not sure if I should call it a piece of praise or a critique. Mostly because I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be open to interpretation or if I simply didn’t understand it because I’m stupid. If it’s the former, then I would call it a fantastic ending; was Patrick an actual serial killer or just a madman falling deeper and deeper into his insanity? If it’s the ladder, then either the movie fell apart or I’m a big dumb-dumb that didn’t understand it. I honestly don’t know, someone please tell me.
Overall, I think American Psycho is a fine film. It isn’t amazing, nor is it bad. It’s an enjoyable slasher-horror with some extremely clever and interesting aspects and some ironically hilarious scenes. If you’re looking for something fun and grotesque to watch for an evening, this is a solid choice.
Plus, we get to see one of the best Batman actors murder the worst Joker in cold blood, which is just delightful.