Story: The horrific crimes of Ed Gein have become immortal thanks to Hollywood, where countless movies and television shows have been made with Gein as inspiration. Psycho? The Silence of the Lambs? The Texas Chain Saw Massacre? Those are just some of the higher profile works that used Gein as inspiration, but his real life crimes are more brutal and terrifying than any of the cinematic takes. In Ed Gein: The Real Psycho, the story of Gein and his twisted actions are explored via documentary segments, while a team of ghost hunters seek to explore the real life home of Gein. So you have a mix of background on the crimes and the man himself, intertwined with a sweep of his property, with both high tech equipment and a medium that feels attuned with violent crime cases. This is a feature length piece, so both sides of the investigation are given a good chunk of the duration.
Entertainment Value: I have to admit, I didn’t read the description well on Ed Gein: The Real Psycho, as I was unaware it involved extensive ghost hunting sequences. I assumed it was a true crime documentary and that’s why I was drawn in, but even as someone who doesn’t have a strong appreciation for the reality show aspects, this turns out to be a more than solid piece. I preferred the true crime elements here, as Discovery Plus has some terrific production values on these Shock Docs, a trend that continues here. The life of Ed Gein is examined in a fairly in depth dive, especially given the time constraints involved. If the documentary side had more time, I am sure more depth could be added, but with this split format, I think they did well to pack in information. The emphasis is on his later life and crimes of course, but that is to be expected with this kind of subject matter. Some time is spent on Gein’s life before his infamous acts, but not a lot. As I said, I wish more time was taken to explore Gein’s past, but overall I think The Real Psycho gives a solid take on the man and his crimes.
I wasn’t as taken with the reality show, ghost hunt side of The Real Psycho. I found the segments to feel staged and overacted, which detracts from the eerie atmosphere of being at Gein’s farm. That is the main draw to these segments to me, so perhaps more of a tour with facts mixed in would have worked better for me. As it stands, we get some background on the locations we visit and some of the items, but much more time is invested in the paranormal theatrics. The crew seems to believe the slightest noise or shift in the wind signals definitive proof of the supernatural, which grows tiresome. The overacting and forced enthusiasm/fear reactions really draw away from the interesting locations, which is a shame. But if you enjoy the reality show style ghost hunting programs, then you might appreciate these segments more than I did. Even with the less than dazzling reality show touches however, Ed Gein: The Real Psycho earns a recommendation.