Thursday, February 24, 2011

Psych: 9 (2010)

I have to give it to Lionsgate: they have had not one but two notable divisions/series devoted mostly to releasing independent horror films either in small, very brief theatrical runs or for the DVD market. While the former (After Dark Horrorfest) is the more well known of the two, the one made exclusively for the DVD and Blu-Ray market is Ghost House Underground, and just like that more well known venture, the series have offered some bombs ("Dark Floors" and "Offspring"), some hidden gems ("Dance of the Dead"), some letdowns ("Last House in the Woods") and some seriously awesome movies ("The Children.") So, where does Andrew Shortell's feature length debut "Psych: 9" land?

Roslyn Hanniger (Sara Foster) has agreed to work alone at night in an abandoned hospital to copy records and relocating files. She doesn't have any company save for Beth (Coleen Camp) and Dr. Irvin Clement (Cary Elwes), who has a psychological fascination with Roslyn, who has a troubled past, and who keeps witnessing strange, seemingly supernatural events in the hospital. Plus, to make matters worse, there's a killer running loose...

A mix of supernatural horror and psychological drama about the past, "Psych: 9" is a movie with lots of potential. The performances (especially Foster, who steals the show) are fine, the direction is good, the atmosphere is chock-loaded with dread, and the score by James Edward Baker is evocative and eerie. So why does the end result end up not clicking.

For one thing, the script is a bit problematic. The revelations and horrors of Rosalyn's past could have worked, but everything about them-including the unnecessary flashback scenes-feel too much like something from a Lifetime movie. It also doesn't help that many of the scares, especially those of the specter like variety, are things that audiences have seen before, and seen done to death. How many more times can a scary ghost pop up on camera or on a monitor? The final 15 minutes of the movie though, are the biggest letdown. In trying to wrap up the various plot points, the movie ends up rushing itself. The big revelation of who the killer is, as well as the reason for his actions can also be seen coming miles away, and while it doesn't necessarily feel like a cheat, I couldn't help but say to myself "that's it?"

To be fair, "Psych: 9" is far from a terrible movie. The problem is just that what should have been a nice sleeper kind of horror film ends up becoming a missed opportunity. I will say this much: the director shows some promise, and I'm interested in what he can do next.

Rating: 5/10

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