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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Andrew Shortell

Sara Foster
Cary Elwes
Gabriel Mann
Michael Biehn

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What's it about

Roslyn takes a job collating files for a soon to be demolished hospital. During her shifts, weird stuff happens such as ghostly figures appearing in CCTV monitors and a little girl singing. Compounding things is the fact that Roslyn is struggling with being unable to bear children, which in turn frustrates her husband Cole. Eventually, she befriends the only other person working in the building with her, Dr. Clement, who works up on the fifth floor in the psychology ward. There's also a mysterious killer known as the Night Hawk terrorizing young women around the town. This results in visits to the hospital by Detective Marling, who believes that the Night Hawk may have some connection to the hospital.

Is it good movie?

There's something about abandoned hospitals (and hospitals in general) that screams 'instant horror film'. It's a staple for the genre if there ever was one. That apparently wasn't enough for first-time director Andrew Shortell, who has thrown in some stuff about a serial killer and a woman struggling with her past demons and trying to have a baby. If this sounds like things in this flick are going to be jumbled, they are.

The thing that struck me about the film was its production design for the hospital. Time certainly hasn't been kind to this building. It looks dirty and run down, with outdated equipment and darkened hallways. Adding to it all is the fluorescent lighting scheme that paints everything in a sickly green colour, which really hits you when you watch scenes from Roslyn and Cole's apartment, which are decidedly less green and much warmer. If you didn't like hospitals before, you certainly won't like seeing the insides of this one.

Another cool thing about the film was its opening credits sequence. Utilizing a sort of Rorschach inkblot test that consists of various images of Night Hawk victims mirrored against each other and 'bleeding' as they're revealed is quite interesting to see, especially in a low-budget film of this nature. I'm probably not doing the description justice, but you get the idea. It seems out of place for this film, especially with the orchestral music used during the sequence being a little 'much'.

When one of the better things about a film is its opening credits sequence, you know the thing's in trouble. PSYCH:9 is a mess from story to script and everything in between. The most damning of problems is the fact that the film is so unsure of what it wants to be. Is it a murder mystery? Is it a psychological thriller? Is it a ghost story? I don't know, because those three were sandwiched into this one, and the result is so unclear. The film does grab your attention and holds it, but does nothing while it has your attention and instead leapfrogs all over between Roslyn's visions, her struggles with Cole and the Night Hawk. Acting-wise, things are okay, but the dialogue and script are terrible. You feel sorry for seeing Michael Biehn in this film as he spits out bad line after bad line. Gabriel Mann constantly switches between douchebag husband and caring hubby in subsequent scenes. Sara Foster spends much of the time smoking (in a hospital) and being disturbed. Cary Elwes plays the psychological doctor type really well, but you can't exactly make out what his accent is. Probably the best actor in the film is the creepy security guard for the hospital, who really acts like he could give a f*ck about his job and has no real lines to speak of.

Really, the thing is just too derivative. You can see the twists coming from a mile away, and after they hit they're still met with a gigantic 'huh?'. My buddy Marcey and I ended up talking about stuff completely unrelated to the film once there was a half hour left in it, which again, had nothing in it but clichéd stuff you've seen from other films that had done it much better. Had the film been given a director with more seasoning under their belt, along with a script that didn't look like it was stuffed to the gills with storylines that probably would be better suited for other films, this would've been a great debut. PSYCH: 9 needs therapy to get its story and characters straight.

Video / Audio

Video: As noted, the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer showcases the hospital scenes in a sickly green light, which adds to the unpleasantness. The rest of the image is reasonably sharp and well detailed, with a few instances of dust and scratches marring things. Edge enhancement is nonexistent.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 track nicely captures the ambient fluorescent lighting fixtures buzzing, amongst other sounds. One uncomfortable moment involves Roslyn being tormented by one of her hallucinations, which involve echoes of 'I want my baby!' ringing around and generally making things uncomfortable. Dialogue is crisp and clear.

The Extras

First up is Fear and Desire: The Making of Psych: 9. Clocking in at twenty-three minutes, this behind the scenes featurette shows how a few key scenes were set up and shot, along with some cast and crew interview bits. Unfortunately, it doesn't tell you anything about the film's genesis, which when you think about it, it isn't a surprise.

Following that are thirty minutes of Deleted Scenes and twenty-three minutes of Outtakes. You know the film is troubled when you have outtakes and deleted scenes that total close to an hour, but anyway. For the deleted scenes, there are a couple of interesting moments, while the outtakes aren't essentially the 'gag reel', but moments that were ruined by odd occurrences. Nothing to write home about.

Rounding things up are startup trailers for other films from Lionsgate and Ghost House Underground, and the film's redband theatrical trailer.

Last Call

PSYCH: 9 has some good things going for it, but ultimately the derivative nature of the film, coupled with a lack of a cohesive story and suspect script make this a chore. The extras are indicative of the mash-up of storylines that really should've been pared down from the start. See it if you have a fear of hospitals and filing.

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