Ameican Psycho (2000)

american psycho

“I like to dissect women. Did you know I’m utterly insane?”

DnaError’s rating: As interesting as IKEA.

DnaError’s review: Okay, get this. There’s this guy right, and he’s pretty well off and all, but the corporate world is slowly killing him. So, he does a bunch of antisocial, violent acts in order to feel alive. Sound familiar? It’s the plot to Fight Club. But the Movie Gods, in all their infiniteness, have graciously air-lifted it into American Psycho.

Fight Club is this movie’s biggest problem. They have the same story and elements, but Fight Club just did it better. Fight Club burned with a hyperkinetic energy, a gritty beauty that was fast, furious, and damned funny.

American Psycho, on the other hand, is as cold and lifeless as the 1980s Yuppie world it satirizes. It’s a movie about a man who “just isn’t there” that isn’t really there. Every time you expect it go for the jugular, to really become bloody or satirical, it backs off, content to let you gape at the shallow, materialistic, soulless corporate world. Yawn.

It doesn’t help that every few minutes it takes the time to bash you over the head screaming “IRONY! LOOK! IRONY!” It’s not a total loss, some jokes stick, Bale can deliver a line, and the movie sure does look and sound like the evil yuppie 80’s. But it is hollow, an empty space where a movie should be.

Justin’s rating: STUPID! You’re sooooo STUPID!

Justin’s review: American Psycho might be Se7en if you took the latter movie, sterilized it, and portrayed it from the killer’s perspective. And even then, AP wouldn’t be as interesting. It’s a dull film that specializes in brutality and hopelessness, and constantly cheats the audience out of anything entertaining.

I saw this with a group of friends, and the only reason I remember the night was because I had some bad movie theater hot dogs that gave me the worst stomach cramps. American Psycho is that memorable.

The first reason why American Psycho is so excruciating is that it requires today’s audience to recall the 80’s Yuppie mindset, in order to satirize it in a dark way. Yes, there’s nothing like a satire twenty years too late. You might as well make a riveting exposé of the ’70s energy crisis for all the relevance that it’d make on people today.

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is this rich jerk whose life is centered around the material world (alas, without Madonna), and it just leaves him cold. Instead of taking up a fulfilling hobby like basketweaving or perhaps attending church once in a while to wash his black soul clean, he begins to murder for fun and… well, fun.

This brings us to the second and third crappy items on the list of why not to see this flick: all the murders (while graphic in concept) are held back on screen with camera tricks (pan away, shadows, just letting us see the aftermath), lessening their shock value, and as a killer, Patrick is nothing more than a shell. We, well most of us, aren’t supportive of serial killers. But if we have to watch films about them, they’d better be interesting instead of Masters of Brooding and Introspection. He’s a cold, dead fish, and I couldn’t care less about his motives or feelings.

In many ways, Patrick Bateman is a spoiled little kid, whining to the world that he’s put upon. What the movie needed was for a grandmother to come up and slap some sense into him. Bad Patrick! Killing bad! There is an incredible bounty of celeb cameos, but you feel sorry for their illiteracy; obviously, if they’d been able to read scripts, they would not have shown up in a bomb like this.

[Semi-spoiler ahead] As if all this monotonous mood and dreary killings weren’t bad enough, we have to suffer through another one of Hollywood’s patent “trick endings that make no sense, and ruin any effort on the film’s behalf to be serious”. The last fifteen minutes of American Psycho get downright goofy, as if the scriptwriter let his six-year-old son fill in the blanks with a burnt umber crayon. Whether it makes sense or not, I don’t care, but what it does do is negate the entire film. So not only did we go through a brutal and vicious film, we did so for no reason whatsoever.

When I look at it, the only reason I can see for this film’s existence is that they were aiming hard to get critical praise for style and subtext. Because I don’t see any audience liking this movie, and in fact, it all but makes you hate it. Where’s Norman Bates when you need a likable killer these days?

Rich’s rating: I am choosing to leave out this section of the review in order to be arty. Aren’t I deep?

Rich’s review: Oh, what could have been. For those of you looking for a factual, plot based review of this film as it stands, I suggest you scroll down to the last paragraph. The rest is pretty much pure vented rage, and it might not be pretty.

I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to write this review. You see, I know, I just know in my heart of hearts that as an adaptation of the titular novel by Bret Easton Ellis, this film is a fantastic representation of the themes of the book. Unfortunately for every single movie-goer who hasn’t read the book or doesn’t know the underlying conceit of the plot, it collapses into a big old mess of vapid shock rubbish because the scriptwriter, in a desperate attempt to make her film cool and hip with the kids, decided that for arts sake she would actually leave all the important exposition out.

I’m gonna go ahead here and suggest that this may have been a HORRIBLY BAD MISTAKE.

I so wanted this to be a great film. In fact, I thought it was for a long time. Saw it at the cinema, thought ‘Good job bringing the book to the screen’. Then, my friends, I talked to people who hadn’t read the book.

“It was rubbish.”, they said, “It was just Christian Bale killing a bunch of people in, admittedly, amusing ways, with an ending that doesn’t make sense.” This caused much brow furrowing on my part – I’d gone into the cinema knowing the ‘truth’ behind the film – but surely somewhere in there the screenplay writer had included the necessary exposition to point out what’s made pretty clear in the book, enforcing the important and deep message of the film?

A re-watch told me that my optimism in the screenwriting was as misplaced as my faith in the Sci-Fi Channel to let any half-decent TV show run without being cancelled.

They’d fluffed it, screwed the pooch, locked the barn door after the horse had bolted after putting all their eggs in the same basket. Oh, and they’d also turned a book with at least an interesting premise and a message about escapism into a film about Christian Bale killing a bunch of people in admittedly amusing ways. Dumbasses. If Brett Easton Ellis were dead, he’d be rolling in his grave.

So below, here is the missing section of American Psycho. Be warned, below are SPOILERS for the book, so if you do not wish to know the result, look away now. They all gone? Right here goes. The keystone to understanding the film, and the message behind it.

Patrick Bateman is not a serial killer. In fact, he doesn’t ever kill anyone in the entire film. And before you all come charging in with your comments like ‘But didn’t he drop that chainsaw through that one girl’s torso?’, yes, you’re right, on film we see Bateman bumping off cast left and right, before our very eyes. However, what we are meant to realize by the end of the film are that these are just Bateman’s fantasies — he hates his lifestyle and everything attached to it, yet can’t bear to be considered an outcast. The only way he can distance himself from the people he abhors is in his mind.

Kind of a big concept for them not to spell out, huh?

In fact, if you watch the film, there are the most subtle of visual clues in this regard (all of Patrick’s fantasy execution sequences begin in the film with him withdrawing money from an ATM, for instance) – but they’re clues you’d only pick up if you actually knew what you were looking for in the first place.

How they managed to drop the ball so magnificently on this leaves a horribly furrowed wrinkle on my otherwise smooth and lustrous forehead. Did the screenwriters think that the concept of Patrick’s delusion would leak into the audience via osmosis? Or perhaps it is in there after all, but encoded so subtly that only 0.13% of the population will notice them? Just thinking about it makes my brain hurt like I’ve just eaten a 4 tubs of ice cream. Oooo, brain freeze.

Honestly, if you hated this film when you watched it the first time, think about going back to it armed with the knowledge that Patrick is delusional and depressed, rather than unemotional and psychotic. Moments like Patrick’s chance for redemption with his secretary Jean, his interviews with Detective Kimbal, and most importantly the end, will make a bunch more sense, and might actually increase your enjoyment of the film.

So that’s it, rant over. I feel vented now, I no longer have to delusionaly imagine myself hunting down the screenwriters and hurting them in creative ways with my office stapler and a magnetic fishing game. Instead I urge you to overlook the glaring omissions in the film, and perhaps re-appreciate it for something other than a wannabe-stylish slash thriller.

Oh, and the Pocket Review: Christian Bale kills a lot of people in admittedly amusing ways. The ending doesn’t make sense. What else you take from this film, I leave up to you.

“Don’t laugh. Going trick-or-treating is the only way I can eat after making this movie.”


  • The one thing I (Justin) really did like was the opening sequence that had blood-red syrup dripping onto plates, only you THINK it’s blood, get it?
  • The movie appearing on Bateman’s TV while he’s working out at home is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • Bateman excuses himself from a conversation by claiming he has an appointment with “Cliff Huxtable.” This was Bill Cosby’s character’s name in “The Cosby Show”
  • Christian Bale’s character tells the dry cleaners that his sheets can only be purchased in Santa Fe. In Newsies, his character’s ultimate goal is to get to Santa Fe.
  • The movie was based on the controversial novel of the same name. It was more well known for it’s gory murder scenes (absent in the movie) than actual skill.
  • Stars Christian Bale and Willem Dafoe have both played Jesus in previous films: Bale in Mary, Mother of Jesus and Dafoe in Last Temptation of Christ. In The English Patient, Dafoe played opposite Jurgen Prochnow, who played Jesus in Seventh Sign.

Groovy Quotes

Bateman: I’m into murders and executions!

Bateman: That’s a very expensive glass of Chardonnay you’re NOT drinking there. It isn’t poisoned.

Bateman: Harold, you’re my lawyer, so I think you should know… I’ve killed quite a few people.

Bateman: I like to dissect women. Did you know I’m utterly insane?

Bateman: My need to engage in homicidal behavior on a massive scale cannot be corrected, but, ah, I have no other way to fulfil my needs.

Waiter: Would you like to hear today’s specials?
Patrick Bateman: Not if you want to keep your spleen.

Bateman: I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don’t know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.

Bateman: Do you know what Ed Gein said about women? “When I see a pretty girl walking down the street, I think two things. One part wants me to be real nice and sweet and treat her right.”
Van Patten: And what did the other part think?
Bateman: What her head would look like on a stick.

ATM Machine: Feed me a stray cat.

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  1. You might as well make a riveting exposé of the 70′s energy crisis for all the relevance that it’d make on people today.

    It’s amazing how a random comment can become so dated. 😛

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