Psych 9 (2012)

Roslyn (Sara Foster) has got a new job in the soon-to-be condemned St John’s emergency hospital, packing and filing all patient records. Despite being an A&E hospital it also once housed a psychiatric unit (of course) and during her night shift ‘Roz’ starts to see things: ghosts, images etc…

Coupled with her suspicion that her husband is also a local serial killer, Roslyn ends up being analysed by Dr. Irvin Clement (Cary Elwes), a psychiatrist working on the fifth floor… and discovers some truths that might just tear her life apart.

Dear God is Psych 9 dull. It is meandering, lingering, predictable, without purpose and has a central character that is a broken, insane mess and thus impossible to sympathize with. With a clunking worthiness it bumbles along towards its inevitable conclusion, which is both baffling and ridiculously obvious in equal measure.

Writer Lawrence Robinson is probably largely to blame for the rambling atrocity that Psych:9 turned out to be. It begins relatively interestingly but then proceeds to sag horrendously in the middle with a host of unsurprising therapy sessions and random dream sequences and culminates in a ‘twist’ so fucking obvious it’ll only surprise a idiot schoolchild. Robinson’s dialogue is also so blitheringly obvious it’s genuinely laughable in places.

There are some major problems that make Roslyn utterly impossible to relate to – again, the fault of Robinson and not actress Sara Foster. We don’t know Roslyn’s background (was she a nurse? We’re not sure) or what her current job is (collating files… but not onto computers, just boxes) and when she sees a terrifying ghost on a TV screen she… goes and investigates! Like a complete idiot.

Our protagonist is also horribly abrasive to anyone she meets for no particular reason – her first scene with Michael Biehn’s Detective Marling is wrought with unneeded friction . She also has a rocky and unrealistic relationship with her cabbie husband, who looks more like an out-of-work member of McFly than a cab driver. Their relationship is deeply unpleasant, filled with jealousy and mistrust.

Oh, and Roslyn is completely fucking insane. She doesn’t even hide it or grow gradually more bonkers throughout – she’s just clearly a moody nutjob.  All in all, Roslyn is a deeply unsympathetic, humourless and – frankly – fucking infuriating character that you gradually grow to despise. Not a great protagonist.

Poor Sara Foster isn’t the only one shafted by terrible character creation. Carey Elwes does his best Giles-from-Buffy impression and amps up the creepiness to 11, forgetting to act in favour of attempting a British accent (for absolutely no reason) and Michael Biehn is horrendously underused as the Basil Exposition-style local cop who literally turns up to dole out information to cast aspersions about the identity of the serial killer. It is an utter waste of a versatile cast.

Unfortunately it’s not just the characters that don’t work here. Psych 9 ticks off nearly every psychiatric-institute horror cliché it can find. Like what? Well…

Creepy disembodied classical music playing quietly in the darkness

Creepy English psychiatric therapist guy

Creepy guard

Creepy policeman

Psycho murderer on the loose (nicknamed Nighthawk!)

Boo! Ghost in a mirror!

Boo! Ghost on a CCTV screen!

Car that won’t start

Lots of rusty chains hanging from the ceiling… in a hospital

It goes on and on and on. The corridors are sickly green and dirty, full of dark corners and random bits of hospital paraphernalia. It’s a nightmare of a place and clearly painted by some set-design interns to look grubby and scary. Good job guys!

Oh, and it’s not scary. At all.

Andrew Shortell does an incredibly poor job of directing Lawrence Robinson’s meandering script too, with randomly angled-shots, unnecessarily elongated scenes and some absolutely baffling flashbacks featuring electro-shock therapy which end up looking more like someone’s thrown a music video into a blender. Shortell’s direction is yawn-worthy and uninspired.

Perhaps tellingly the UK DVD release features over 35 minutes of deleted scenes and a ridiculous 21 minutes of outtakes (!), which are neither funny nor remotely interesting. It shows a general lack of competence that threads its way through the feature film itself.

Jesus Dave! Stop ripping it apart! Isn’t there ANYTHING good about Psych 9? Well, the performances are good despite the script and the atmosphere is suitably dank and disturbing and the set design is ace and… erm…

Overall Psych 9 is a mess. It fails to inspire or excite and is incredibly meandering, with a twist we’ve seen umpteen times before and done much better. It ends on a low note that is both confusing and ridiculous… which sums up Psych 9 perfectly. Seriously avoid.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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