I’ve always found this painting by Edward Hopper strange and disturbing. The house seems not so much built, as extruding itself from the landscape, extending bizarre architectural pseudopods. It has a plastic life of its own.
Not surprisingly, it was the inspiration for the house in Psycho, where creepy Norman Bates took such good care of his dear old mum. The question is what came first – the film or the painting? For me it was probably the film, colouring my impression of the painting, but what if you saw the painting first or perhaps never saw the film? You might see it differently. Here’s the Psycho house.
I think Hopper’s house is more disturbing. It has a greater sense of verticality, and those misshapen, oversized dormer windows and red chimneys push it right over the edge into overbearing and threatening. He’s imbued it with a sense of haunting loneliness, as he does to the figures in his paintings. What the film achieved by subject, lighting, music, and camera angles, Hopper achieves with paint.
But I would like to read an impression of the house from before the film.