In 2014 Alexandre O. Philippe had a hit at Sundance with Doc of the Dead, a probing study of the zombie genre and its cultural significance. Philippe has returned to the horror film on his latest documentary, the enigmatically titled 78/52, but this time instead of taking a macro approach and covering an entire sub-genre, he has taken a micro approach and created an in-depth analysis of a single scene within a single film. The scene in question is the notorious “shower scene” from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece Psycho. This three-minute scene took roughly a week to shoot, it consists of 78 “cuts” and 52 camera set-ups (hence Philippe’s title), and it has gone down in history as one of the most sophisticated and effective examples of editing ever devised. As well as, a scene that completely redefined the nature of horror, and, in so doing, changed the face of cinema forever. In a sense, there is cinema pre-Psycho and there is cinema after Psycho.
This is a must for fans of Hitchcock, for fans of the horror genre, for fans of the slasher flick, and, really, for all fans of the movies PERIOD. It’s been said that 78/52 is “nirvana for film buffs” and that it “unpacks an entire semester’s worth of cinema studies” over the course of a mere 91 minutes. But it’s also expertly constructed—one should expect nothing less for a film dealing with the genius of the “Master of Suspense” himself—and Variety has called 78/52 both “hypnotic” and “enthralling.”
-Contribution, Anthony Kinik