The movie, American Psycho, depicts the double life of a well-to-do investment banker from New York. Set in the 80s, the banker conducts his life as a materialistic yuppie during the day, but when nightfall occurs, he becomes a killing machine who is after Huey Lewis. 

American Psycho Explained


The Plot

The movie, American Psycho, is taken from the book of the same name that is written by Bret Easton Ellis. The content of the movie created a good deal of controversy because of the explicit sex and violence scenes. To have the American Psycho explained, one must know the plot first.

The story is set in New York amongst the 1980s Wall Street boom. Patrick Bateman is the investment banker and also the movie’s narrator. The movie begins with Bateman detailing his daily activities as a textbook yuppie, working, hanging with his friends and clubbing it every Friday night. Then the killings begin. The first killing is a colleague of Bateman’s named Paul Allen. Bateman then takes over Owens’ apartment and uses the setting to conduct a series of atrocities that include rape, torture, mutilation necrophilia and cannibalism.

At the end of the movie, Bateman calls his attorney, Harold Carnes, and on the answering machine leaves a complete confession to all of the crimes he has committed. When he runs into Carnes and tries to talk to him about the answering machine confession, his attorney just laughs at him and tells him he is not capable of committing those crimes because he does not have the guts to carry out such horrible acts. He tells Bateman that he did not kill Paul Allen because he had dinner with him twice in the last week. The ending of the book focuses on Bateman and his yuppie friends clubbing it on a Friday night just as they always have.


The Meaning of the Movie

American Psycho is more than just a blood and guts thriller that has the gore included just for shock value. It may appear that way at first glance but it is much more than that. You are drawn into graphic descriptions of murder and horrific crimes. But what is it all for? How could one person just be so full of hate or insanity to pull off such doings of evil? As Ellis draws you into each scene that has no redeeming qualities, you will realize later that you were his pawn. Did Bateman really have it in him to pull off such horrible crimes? How did he get away with it? And even more importantly, did he really do such terrifying things?


An Explanation of the Ending

If you want to have American Psycho explained, knowing the ending will definitely be of great help. During the movie, Ellis shows the entire Yuppie culture was so focused upon themselves that they consistently call each other by incorrect names and no one seems to care. Some people use this fact to dispute the ending where the lawyer says that Bateman couldn’t have killed Owen because he just had dinner with him. But did he? With the yuppie culture only concerned with themselves, did the attorney mistake Owens for someone else? All yuppies seem to look alike. As for the apartment where all the killings took place, again, it is hypothesized that it was cleaned up and was prepared to sell. When the realtor found Bateman there at the end, she told him to leave. She knew he had something bad to do with the apartment. But some think she was only interested in selling the apartment and not interested in becoming involved in anything more.


Facts About American Psycho

Here are some interesting facts about the novel and subsequent movie — American Psycho:

  • In the movie, Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman. In the movie his girlfriend refers to him as Batman. Bale went on to play Batman in the movies in real life.

  • Ellis based his character of Bateman on actor Tom Cruise. He felt that while Cruise looked like a friendly kind of guy, he showed “nothing behind the eyes.”

  • While American Psycho focused on the land of yuppies, many high end designers would not allow their products to be associated with the film. You will not see a Rolex watch on Paul Bateman’s wrist because the company refused to let it be featured. How could an association with a psycho killer be good for business?

  • In a scene where Bateman is on the phone with a detective, he says he has to go because he has to meet with Cliff Huxtable. This was the name of Bill Cosby’s character in the weekly television sitcom The Cosby Show.


A Summary of American Psycho

Usually when a movie is adapted from a book, there are many scenes that do not translate well. A lot of people who read the book found the movie took many liberties that it shouldn’t have including the ending. There were not a lot of scenes set in clubs because the director found them too difficult to shoot. And the scenes in the book were much more graphic and gory than in the movie.

The biggest controversy still exists: Was Patrick Bateman confident enough to pull off the killing sprees that were shown in this movie or was this all just a glimpse inside the mind of a psychotic killer? Maybe he wasn’t even insane but just fed up with his boring yuppie lifestyle and in order to amuse himself he created an alter ego who had no limits to his actions.

People who have seen this movie and read the book fall into two camps. Those who think the actions of Patrick Bateman were all just a reflection of his daydreams and those who think it happened and the yuppies that could have reported it or even recognized that something was amiss were too concerned with themselves to ever be involved in something that would benefit someone else.

So the final question is there for you to answer: Was Patrick Bateman an American psycho or a daytime dreamer who transferred his anger issues into a graphically depicted blood bath. Read the book or see the movie or both, and then you make up your own mind.


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