Roger Ebert called the 1998 shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" pointless and invaluable, as it demonstrated that "genius apparently resides between or beneath the shots, or in chemistry that cannot be timed or counted"

Image result for comparing psycho remake

Fifty-eight years ago Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" would change cinema forever. 38 years later, a shot-by-shot remake helmed by Gus Van Sant would be the whipping boy of the critical community.
When deciding to take on this remake, Van Sant insisted that the film be untouched, a few small lines thrown here and there to modernize some things (“let me get my Walkman”). Even weirder, the score by Danny Elfman was note-for-note the same as the Bernard Hermann original. So what went wrong? Just about everything.
The fact that Van Sant decided to make his film both an homage and a duplicate was the mistake.  "Psycho," despite being a timeless cinematic endeavor, could not be modernized, it's a product of its time. The addition of color was blasphemous, the black and white in the original is such an important tool for Hitchcock, with its usage of shadow and light bringing more vulnerability and creepiness to the surroundings.  If Van Sant would have resorted to the basic tech that was available back in 1960, the cameras, the lighting, no-color, maybe his film would have been more interesting. Take for example the lighting in the bathroom scene, which was "white space," a flood of light in the ceiling that renders it almost laughable. 
Another major issue: The casting. Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche as Norman and Marion. Viggo Mortensen played the boyfriend, Sam and Julianne Moore as Marion’s sister Lila. William H Macy was also Arborgast. Great talent, but miserable casting. If Van Sant tried to approach the material in a way that was similar to the original, the actors decided to do the reverse. They tried to interpret their characters in new ways. This contradicted with the whole point of the film, which was that it was meant to be a duplicate, the actors thought of it as an homage.
Vaughn had none of Perkins' charm, Heche’s Marion wasn't as likable in the least bit. Norman's innocence was turned into a sex-obsessed nightmarish figure that masturbated to Marion undressing through a peephole. Why give away that he's a creep when Hitchcock only revealed him as the antagonist at the end of his film?
20 years after its release, Van Sant's intentions still seem blurry. The problem of duplicate vs homage left the remake with no identity whatsoever. All it reminded us was just how great the original was.
Roger Ebert famously said the 1998 shot-by-shot remake was pointless and invaluable, as it demonstrated that "genius apparently resides between or beneath the shots, or in chemistry that cannot be timed or counted." Well said.

Image result for psycho shot for shot
Image result for psycho shot for shot
Image result for psycho shot for shot remake
Image result for psycho shot for shot remake
Image result for psycho shot for shot remake
Notice the deep focus into the background which allows the viewer to absorb detail.
Notice the sharpened focus on Vaughn at the expense of clarity in the background. This technique forces the audienceĆ¢€™s attention of the subject.



[Roger Ebert]
[Reddit]