I admit it: I’m a sucker for psychological thrillers. Sure, I enjoy a blood-fest horror movie in the vein of Lucio Fulci as much as the next horror fanatic, but put on Flatliners, Jacob’s Ladder, The Vanishing, Silence of the Lambs, Session 9, and even the first SAW movie into a DVD player, and I am mesmerized. There just something about mind-fuck movies that makes my skin crawl in a way that I’m just immune to when it comes to other horror movies.
So when I heard about PSYCH:9, the first thing I thought of was one of my all-time favorite psychological thrillers, Brad Anderson’s Session 9, and how I was pining away for him to direct the remake of The Crazies a few years ago. The plot-line of a woman filing hospital records in the middle of the night while a serial killer is on the loose outside seemed like a fantastic psychological/gruesome thriller waiting to happen.
Roslyn Hanniger(played by Sara Foster) takes the graveyard shift filing patient records at a closed hospital. With no-one but a creepy security guard, a psychiatrist(played by Cary Elwes) more interested in delving into Roslyn’s past than filing his own patient records upstairs, a nosy detective(played by Michael Biehn), and a psychotic killer roaming the streets that the media has dubbed “The Nighthawk”, Roslyn is determined to survive the killer as well as her own inner demons from her past. Will she survive?
By the end of it, I didn’t really care.
The story started off fairly well. It’s easy to create a creepy, suspenseful atmosphere in an abandoned hospital, especially one with a psychiatric ward. The development of Roslyn, as we see that her body is burned for reasons unknown until the end, that she has an almost unwilling relationship with her husband, Cole, as well as how her past unfolds during her sessions with Dr. Irvin Clement. Intertwined with this are scene of gore as The Nighthawk continues killing women with blonde hair. The cinematography was also very well done, giving off that shadowy, yet vibrant, vibe that makes good psychological thrillers seem like new-age film noir.
The problem is that, using the idea of ghosts, mental instability, and a serial killer into a whodunit plot, the story seems to lose direction after a while. It’s watchable, until the climax, where the ending seems rushed, as if the filmmakers ran out of time, money, or both to write, shoot, and edit a respectable finale. By the climax, you know who the killer is, and rather than delve into that a bit more, we are accosted by the actors doing nothing to finish off the story with some flair.
I give PSYCH:9 2 out of 5 headslams into a wall.