Psych:9 Movie Review

Psych:9 Movie Review
Review by Mike Pickle,

The tag line for the recent Ghosthouse Pictures release, Psych:9 is, "Fear is all in the mind". It certainly is. The fear is firmly set in the mind of the filmmakers, but it never quite reaches the viewer. Unless, of course, you count the many cheap jump scares helped along with shaky camera, blurred images and the typical loud jump-scare music. These scares are peppered throughout the film and are placed seemingly at random just to break away from the monotonous drama of the story and the melodramatic acting.

Psych:9 is another one of those "psychological thrillers" that is way more into itself than you are. Every scene is so heavy and supposed to carry so much meaning that, by the time the movie is half way through, you don't care anymore and are just waiting to see if it's leading up to something really cool. What it leads to is something rare. A typical and predictable film that also manages to be confusing.

Psych:9 stars former fashion model Sara Foster as Roslyn Hanniger. An unstable woman with a dark past who takes a job on the graveyard shift collating files at a recently closed hospital. I probably don't need to inform you that she starts seeing strange things and hearing strange noises. She soon begins to believe that the hospital is somehow connected to a string of murders at the hands of a hammer wielding maniac nicknamed The Nighthawk. Roslyn looks for answers while simultaneously going mad in her own private hell. Her madness is revealed through lengthy conversations with Dr. Irvin Clement (Cary Elwes) who is working on files of his own in the Psych ward on the 5th floor.

We find out that Roslyn's growing madness was initiated by a severely troubled childhood that she feels compelled to explain in grueling and needless detail, Problems with her husband Cole (Gabriel Mann) and the inability to have a baby add to her madness and hallucinations until she, nor the viewer, knows what's real and what's in her mind. This painfully slow decent into madness leads to (more like promises) answers to all the questions posed throughout the film including the identity of The Nighthawk. These answers never come and, if they did, I missed it. They were buried so deep in the convoluted melodrama that, by the time the answers came, I didn't care to try to understand them. I tried to figure out what the meaning of the climax reveal was for the sake of this review and none of the possible meanings were particularly interesting.

If you want a similar story that plays out much more effectively; you're better off renting the wonderfully scary Session 9 with David Caruso. It deals with the same themes in a much more effective way. Psych:9 is the first feature for director Andrew Shortell and it shows. A lot of the transitions simply do not make sense and derail the film about half way through and it never recovers. Every scene that begins to get compelling just falls flat or takes itself so seriously that all the drama is sucked out. When this happens; a jump-scare is thrown in to show you that you're watching a Horror film, but it just comes off cheap.

This film is not without it's high points. Although Sara Foster is guilty of adding to the tired melodrama of this film; she still managed to be impressive in some scenes. Especially the scenes featuring Gabriel Mann as her erratic husband. His performance is certainly one of the highlights and ends up having much more depth than any other character. Another stand-out in a (sadly) much smaller role is Winter Ave Zoli as Roslyn's co-worker who comes to take over her shift when the boss finds out Roslyn is acting wacky and not working. She is a talent that is under-used as an excuse to play creepy music and show another pretty girl slowly walking around the hospital investigating strange noises. Cary Elwes held his own as the doctor, but was ultimately forgettable. Michael Biehn from Terminator and Planet Terror added some much needed realism to the film as the detective investigating the Nighthawk case. Both he and Elwes seemed to bring class to this project, but were not given the lines or the direction to be as good as they are capable of.

There are some good things hidden in framework of Psych:9, but nothing that hasn't been done before (and better) many times. The story probably could have played out just fine in half the time. Much of the film was flashbacks to things that had already happened to make sure the viewer is following the story. I didn't really need these flashback reminders. I was following the story just fine. I just stopped caring.

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