I will be honest with you sports fans and tell you that I love American Psycho. I have a Patrick Bateman statue in my bathroom. I have seen this film multiple times throughout the years and yet I continue to have no idea if this film is supposed to be in the comedy genre or the horror genre.
This film was my first introduction to Christian Bale. Actually, this film was the major introduction for several actors. Bale, Justin Theroux (Writer of Zoolander-2001 & Tropic Thunder-2008), Bill Sage (We Are What We Are-2013), Matt Ross(HBO’s Big Love) and Josh Lucas (Glory Road-2006)
The film didn’t see a lot of love while it was in the cinema, but when DVD sales and rentals gave people to see and share the film, it saw a secondary life as a weird cult film. I don’t have many non-effects driven films on BluRay, but this one, I splurged on.
The scene with the newspaper
The handling of one’s nemesis is a defining point in a young man’s life. The laying out of the layered absorbent material to catch the body fluids and the staining substances is crucial in the process of getting away with the crime. Christian Bale manages to work a moonwalk into his walking around. As he is grabbing duct tape and an axe, Patrick energetically monologues about the exciting power of Huey Lewis and the News and their album “Fore!” about to put on his clear raincoat. He gives a talk about Huey Lewis in his decision to select loud music to cover the screams. Then releases his rage upon his target who has managed to out-excel our protagonist.
Plus, and this is an excellent reason to kill… Christian Bale kills Jared Leto. That is right. He kills Jared Leto violently and with spraying and chaotic glee. I detest Jared Leto, who is like Bono in his attempts to turn every opportunity into a photo opp media release for sounding like he cares instead of actually accomplishing anything.
The scene with the business cards
A lot of people have business cards. In every job that I have worked the business card with the myriad of titles has been the way people introduce each other. Even at cons and photo ops for cosplay events, trading cards to double publicize each other is common practice.
Viewing our protagonist, Bateman, trading monochromatic cards that are only off by a shade, a serif, and a name with all of the other nepotistic Vice Presidents of of other made up departments is fairly amusing. The implication that ‘what makes a card impressive is a watermark’ is fairly amusing. And when we say impressive, we mean impressive enough to kill over. The look on Bale’s face when the card just tumbles out of his hand in ecstatic agony is a workaholic masochism that makes me smile.
As Bateman sinks deeper and deeper into the depths of his need to hurt others to make himself feel better, he gets weird with his sex. He moves to Leto’s place (Dammit, it’s nicer than Bateman’s!) so he can keep his place nice. He starts hurting off-screen hookers and eventually one of them discovers his bathroom is full of dead people. She fights to get rid of him and he chases her down the hall in running shoes and a chainsaw.
Timing her run down the stairs, he drops the spinning chainsaw on her in a very weird and famous scene. This all leads to the ending where our hero can no longer handle the tell-tale heart guilt of the many people he has hurt, injured and killed. He has admitted to his own lawyer the deeds he has done and the lawyer finds the confession to be a very funny joke. The barrister reveals through his doubt that the uppercrust need to look alike and be seen as equals has reduced Bateman to just another preppie in a pinstripe suit.
Bret Easton Ellis’s novel reads like a thick list of 80’s fashion names turned into a narrative. Like that guy at your school reunion who name drops so he sounds impressive. I like the book, but that is because I tend to skim the brand names to get to the story. I suspect that may be the point of the story, is that the story is meant to take place in the background of a foregrounded effort by the male characters to showcase their knowledge accessibility and usage of the latest brand names, rather than becoming an actual trendsetter and fashion icon.
Women are required to be trendsetters in the film, but only, and I mean ONLY, if it is a new fashion by official experts like magazines and already established designers.
When the film came out, Brett Ellis actually preferred that many of the questions that the film tried to answer remain unknown. The ending to the film was changed several times as the writer and director worked to make the film appeasing to both creators.
Is the film enjoyable?
Yes, it is funny to see the outlandishness of the overpaying, the pettiness of a piece of paper, the naked chase down the halls, the need to return videotapes, the ATM asking to eat the cat, the ignorance of the truth by those who most need to hear it, the sharing of horrible information in polite society, and the turn from strangling the weak into caresses and curiousity on gorgeous driving gloves. I give it a strong 8.
Is the film still relevant?
As we get more separation between the haves and the have nots, yes, it is getting very relevant again. Since American Psycho relates to the 1980’s greed of the haves, we see how irrelevant they are and how easy it would be to replace them with somebody else looking just like them. As Bill Cosby said during the same time period “I can take you out. And it don’t make no difference to me, I’ll make another one look just like you.” I give it a strong 9.
Because Ellis purposefully wanted to leave the questions unanswered, the plot is unresolved. Is this real, or in his head? We aren’t meant to know. The lack of resolution makes the film more enjoyable, because it empowers the viewer to make their own ending. The viewer is allowed to think that either Bateman gets away with murder or that it’s all in his head. If it is in his head, the world is better because he doesn’t act on the impulses. If it is real, then the story is that much more interesting. Plot I give an 8.
Is it cheaply cosplayable?
Yes, Blue pinstripe is easy to find, but wear a clear raincoat to distinguish yourself from all the lazies who assume a pinstripe suit and sneakers makes their Dr Who cosplay complete. Without specificity, people will assume Dr Who because they have been trained to see Who by those who can’t think a little further than uniformity. Patrick Bateman has this same problem. I give it an easiness of 9 if you are willing to do 3-5 hours of prep work. Make a shiny axe and Business cards to go the extra mile.
a) Grab an 80’s axe murder film on VHS.
b) Before you go to the convention, grab a 4” square piece of butcher paper from the local doctor’s office(or ask your butcher for some). Write “Dorsias” neatly in the center in crayon. Using the same box of crayons, draw some murders and horror destruction vis-a-vis the style found in the film(Gives you an excuse to watch the film). Roll it up and show it off during photo opportunities at the con.
c) Walkman – same kind everyone is using in their Guardians of the Galaxy cosplay.
d) Copy of Huey Lewis and the News CD, Fore:
e) Bloodspray on your face. Do this while wearing the jacket to colorize the raincoat, protect the nice suit and create continuity in your costume. Needs to be focused near your right temple as a general spray from below. On a scale of off/spray to stream, the spray bottle needs to be “just” on the stream side of keeping it as a spray. The blood of an artery is going to spurt rather than spray so light spray would be to light and wide, a very minimal drip would be okay, and water-gunning the face would be wrong.
f)The Axe: How to bring a Patrick Bateman axe into the Con:
1. Buy an axe at the hardware store.
2. Bring it to the con
3. Put it back in the car when the security denies it access
4. Next year, make one
How to make an axe (In case you’re wondering)
Understanding that this is only one way to make a cardboard axe……make it 3-6 box-layers thick alternating where the folds in the cardboard might land. Glue the layers together. Leaving the center layer longest, trim the outer layers of the head’s blade back by an inch from the central layer, trim any layers outside of them 1 inch as well, repeat until you have considered each layer. Use Aluminum foil/shiny duct tape around head, making care not to crinkle the foil/tape. glue that down as well. Press the layers to form a thinning blade. A lot of people forget that because the prop is part of a costume, that it may not be swing worthy. Know your cardboard.
For the extra mile, and as a great way to get your photo cited correctly on social media, remember that Patrick hands out business cards. Hand out your prop business card with your info on the back. Here is your line: Learn it and be overly happy when you say it.
“Hi, Patrick Bateman, I would love to stay, but I’ve gotta return some videotapes! Here’s my card. We’ll lunch at Dorsia’s”
You have now handed out a card and stayed in character.
See if you can use a cheap print shop to get a bunch made. (Note that you should probably change just enough about the card to maintain proper copyright issues. ) If you decide to do it yourself, note that in the top right corner, Acquisitions has no “c” at all in the film, in anyone’s card, for authenticity.
If you do choose to make a cosplay business card, there are some bits of information you might want to include (on the back of your card, as a possibility). Your name, your costume designer’s name (if someone helped you assemble the costume, they like shout-outs too), home city, state. Contact info is important. Anything you are comfortable with: phone number, email address, social media profiles, etc.
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And keep on the lookout for my next blog, where I talk more about Cosplaying in suits. and look for pictures of my adaptations of Patrick Batman