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American Psycho [Steelbook Review]

Christian Bale in American Psycho

American Psycho was released in theaters back in 2000. Based off of the novel from Bret Easton Ellis, the film follows Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) as he evolves from Wall Street yuppie into psychotic serial killer. It’s a perfect blend of horror and comedy, all thanks to director and co-screenwriter, Mary Harron. 

Harron and her screenwriting partner, Guinevere Turner, stayed true to Ellis’s novel. By doing so, the film really captured the absurdity of living large in New York City during the 1980s. This helps make the story, as the characters around Bateman are so self-involved that they fail to notice the killer amongst them.

Harron does a great job of making a film set in the 1980’s without making it look like an ‘80s movie. Instead, the settings are very much a reflection of Bateman and how he sees himself blending in with everyone else.

Bale’s performance as a man slipping into insanity is what really makes this film great. The narrating voice in the book is much more aggressive than Bale’s voiceover dialogue, which was a smart choice by Harron and Turner. It’s more seductive and helps keep the audience on Bateman’s side, at least for the sake of watching what happens.

Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse) has a small role as a detective investigating the death of one of Bateman’s colleagues. The interview scenes are a hilarious contradiction to the violence happening in every other scene of the film. Bale’s paranoia mixed with Dafoe’s grinning stare are enough to make viewers forget there’s more blood and terror right around the corner. 

The comedy in the film holds up really well. It seems there is no amount of time that will make the business card scene unfunny. It’s perfect cinema, from the sound effects to the close ups. 

The duality of the music in the flick mirrors the two sides of Bateman. While the soundtrack is heralded for its distinct incorporation into the story, the original score is often overlooked. John Cale (Velvet Underground) provided the music in one of his more high profile film scores. Cale flawlessly weaves different musical moods into Harron’s picture around pop hits from the likes of Huey Lewis and Phil Collins. 

Lionsgate is re-releasing American Psycho with a Best Buy exclusive steelbook. Included are a 4K Ultra HD disc, a Blu-ray disc and a digital code so you can stream or download the film to watch anywhere.

Audio commentary by Harron is included in the bonus features. A 2018 version was recorded for the 4K disc. The Blu-ray features one recorded in 2005 where Harron offers plenty of insight into the struggle of making this independent film. 

Cowriter, Guinevere Turner provides her own commentary track for the film. It may be a worthwhile listen, but I’d have preferred one commentary between both writers. A conversation likely would have sparked more interesting, forgotten details. The unique analyses provided by Harron and Turner are both still worth checking out if you are a fan of the film. 

Deleted scenes are included in the bonus features, as well. Harron provides commentary for each of them, expressing remorse for footage she would have enjoyed keeping in the final cut. 

Another special feature included is the short documentary The ‘80s: Downtown. It discusses the true NYC lifestyle that Patrick Bateman was written to inhabit. Sex, clubs, drugs, suspenders, and AIDS are all explored in unabashed detail by New Yorkers such as James St. James (Party Monster) and Gil Reavill (Screwed magazine).

A second documentary, American Psycho: From Book to Screen, is only included in the 4K version. Along with most of the bonus features, it was produced in 2005 for a previous re-release of the film. 

Something I would have appreciated would have been a commentary track with Christian Bale. Either by himself or in conversation with someone else. Cast members rarely record commentaries. This performance and character is more than deserving and I would love to hear Bale reveal stories and opinions in his true accent. 

The only new feature appears to be the steelbook itself. The physical case encapsulates two of the film’s most memorable moments. The infamous face peel scene is featured on the slip cover with amazing new artwork by Justin Erickson. Inside, the steelbook resembles a business card case. It feels like a real lost opportunity to not include something printed other than the digital code coupon. There’s even built-in tabs to hold an oversized business card in place. Overall, this Best Buy exclusive is a great addition, or worthy upgrade, to any movie fan’s home collection.

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