Bates Motel, Season 3 (2015) review

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The entire season 3 is available on Netflix UK, so, of course, this reviewer had to binge watch the ten episodes over a weekend.

Synopsis – Bates Motel is a prequel to Hitchcock’s Psycho movie although the series is set in contemporary America. The series charts the events and disturbing family relationships that led to the Norman Bates we met in the classic Hitchcock film.

Is it horror? I’ve asked myself this question a number of times and I do think it can be placed within the horror genre. It’s more Twin Peaks or Top of the Lake than Dexter or Hannibal, but it has the same darkness and psychological horror of these shows. It’s not a slasher, it is a slow burner, but the relationship between mother and son is both fascinating and extremely disturbing.

Season 3 has less humour than the previous seasons. It is much darker and we see Norman become more deranged and dangerous than ever. The cross-dressing is also introduced, and we realise that this is Norman becoming his mother. The family are caught in similar bizarre tangles with the criminal bosses of the town as in the previous seasons, but this time, Norma is determined to take a more proactive and assertive stance. Her violent explosions of anger and her high intelligence make her a force to be reckoned with, but this only puts the family in more danger. Her brother returns and is desperate to be part of Norma’s life, and her reactions to him are very real and compelling. In fact, the entire family and Emma seem entirely human in their often unexpected reactions, making it a brilliant drama with superlative acting by Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore. We really feel for Norma as she realises her son’s behaviour is no longer something she is able to control.

There are fewer murders, but those we see are disturbing and bloody. A&E plan two more series of Bates Motel in 2016 and 2017, and I for one will be glued to the screen.