American Psycho is a movie that I did not care for the first time I watched it. Maybe it was because I was too young to really get it or maybe it was because I watched the edited version on TV - probably a combination of both of these factors - but I have grown to love and appreciate the movie and completely agree with HorrorHound's recent list that it is one of the best horror films in the last decade. Whether or not you consider American Psycho a horror film is a discussion all its own, but what i'm here to discuss with you guys is the ambiguous ending of the movie. It's completely open to the individual viewers interpretation - which is something I love - but I want to know your personal thoughts on the matter.
Did Patrick Bateman really kill all those people and get away with it or was the whole movie a product of his demented imagination?
I love the ideas of both of these interpretations. The implication of the first is that the rich can really get away with anything, something that kinda seems to be true in this world. Bateman is a sadistic fuck who can't stop killing people and wants to get caught - but he can't, even when he admits what he's done, due to his high social status. It's an awesome idea - Bateman being trapped in his own personal hell with no escape - but personally, I prefer the second interpretation and it's the one that fits in with the whole movie the best.
One of the main themes of the movie is vanity and the importance of how we look to others, which is an obsession of Bateman's, and that's why the idea that all of the killings were merely in his head holds the most power for me. We always hear that it's what's on the inside that counts, but really, as far as society is concerned, it's mostly what's on the outside that counts. Bateman knows this and despite the fact that he envisions himself killing everyone he knows, works with, and encounters - something he'd love to actually act out - he keeps his cool and appears normal to the people around him, the same people he wants to kill, and thus, it really doesn't even matter what's going on inside his head. Bateman is an attractive, in shape, rich, and successful American man with a nice business card - that's what's important, right?
I think it's safe to say that we all day dream from time to time of taking an axe to a co-worker or random person on the street but we don't do it and that's really all that matters. We put the thoughts out of our head, act normal, and try our best to fit in. Again, it's what people can see on the surface that counts. If we appear normal, then we can get in no trouble for our imagined actions and nobody will be the wiser. As Bateman says in one of the closing lines of the film, "...inside doesn't matter". As far as i'm concerned, that's the whole idea of the entire film and it's that compelling and ballsy idea that makes the movie so interesting and different to me and it's also why I think it works so well from the perspective of a female director. After all, women know better than anyone the sad truth that outer beauty is a lot more important in this day and age than what lies inside...
What's your interpretation? Leave a comment and let's discuss it!