Andrew Shortell's Psych: 9 starts off with a great sequence in which a pretty young blonde woman is running for her life through a rundown neighborhood. She's being chased by someone and is obviously terrified, so you can't blame her for trying to get into the massive abandoned structure she soon finds herself running up against. The door is locked, however, and before you know it, her head's been caved in with a hammer. The door then opens, too little too late, and the opening credits usher us inside.
From here we meet a woman named Roslyn (Sarah Foster) who, desperately in need of a job, takes a position working the night shift inside an abandoned hospital. Though the building is to be torn down soon, there's still work to be done and so she sets about copying records and relocating files - exciting stuff like that. She's more or less got the place to herself except for the weird security guard and one lone doctor, named Clement (Cary Elwes), who is doing the same sort of work she is only one floor up, in the psychiatric ward. Roslyn starts seeing ghosts and hearing strange sounds almost as soon as she's left alone, but some couching from smooth Clement soon puts her at ease... temporarily at least.
What she doesn't realize is that the opening murder was committed by a serial killer running around the area. He's got a penchant for pretty ladies and Roslyn fits that description to a tee. Wouldn't an abandoned hospital be the perfect spot for a serial killer to stalk someone like her? Of course it would! The cops pick up on this and a detective (played by Michael Biehn of all people) is soon on the case, but no one quite seems to know who is really behind all these killings or why.
Psych: 9, for all its potential, doesn't have a whole lot to offer seasoned horror viewers in terms of originality or any sort of fresh spin. You'll get a pretty good feeling very early on as to where this is all going and how it's going to get there and it won't take you long before you start to realize that, because of that, this isn't particularly suspenseful. The cast are all decent enough - Elwes is his usual charming self here and you can see why Roslyn takes a liking to him - he's dreamy! Biehn isn't a bad choice to play the detective as he's got that right sort of earthniess to him and Sarah Foster makes for a perfectly likeable female lead. Without a particularly strong script to work with, however, the performances don't seem all that noteworthy.
Where this film really shines, however, is in the use of its locations. Filmed in the Czech Republic, Shortell has done a fine job of capturing the eeriness inherent in the abandoned buildings, particularly those of an industrial nature such as the hospital used here. If you've ever done any exploring and found yourself alone inside an abandoned building for any length of time, you'll know firsthand how eerie it can be and the movie does capture a good bit of this eeriness. There's a good sense of despair to the visuals that help you understand just why exactly Sarah might think she's seeing the things that she thinks she's seeing here. It's a shame then that there wasn't more thought put into this and instead it cribs from films like Shutter Island and Jacob's Ladder (two other examples of how important locations and their atmosphere are to horror pictures) with elements of more pedestrian pictures thrown in for good measure. It's not a horrible film, not by any stretch, but it is a predictable and formulaic one.
Psych 9 arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 2.55.1 1080p high definition widescreen transfer that looks about as good as the source material will allow for. Keep in mind that this is a film that really makes use of a lot of sickly green tones and macabre looking decayed color schemes so you can't realistically expect it to pop off the screen at you. Contrast is all over the place but you'll know when you see it spike the way it does that this was done on purpose and is intended to be part of the film's overall look - it works and is in keeping with what the filmmakers were going for, but not surprisingly detail suffers. Close up shots generally look pretty good, however, though some minor compression artifacts are around here and there.
The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix on this release is a pretty good one, offering up some very effective ambient noise and showing off good directional effects. Dialogue is crystal clear and the track provides plenty of punch when the movie calls for it. There are a few scenes where maybe the bass response could have been a bit more powerful but aside from that, there's not much to complain about here. Levels are well balanced throughout and there are no problems at all with any hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and Spanish.
The most substantial extra on this disc is a twenty-three minute behind the scenes featurette entitled The Making Of Psych: 9 that shows us, first hand, how a few key scenes were set up for and shot. There's some cast and crew interview bits in here as well, but the focus is on preparing for the shoot more than anything else.
From there, check out the Deleted Scenes and the Outtakes that have been included. The first section contains well over half an hour's worth of material removed from the finished version of the film and an alternate opening sequence. The second section contains over twenty-two minutes of bizarre and fairly random scenes that got screwed up for whatever reason during the shoot. These aren't bloopers, per se, but rather semi-lengthy mistakes. Odd.
Aside from that, we get a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Lionsgate properties, animated menus and chapter stops. All of the extra content on this disc is presented in standard definition.
Psych: 9 scores very high marks for atmosphere and amazing location shooting but falls short on originality or legitimately lasting scares. The movie's look is the most interesting thing about it, and sadly the plot just doesn't offer us enough to chew on. That said, for a low budget independent feature, it's not a complete waste of time. When it works, it works well and horror fans could certainly do a lot worse. Lionsgate's Blu-ray release isn't a bad one, offering an acceptable transfer of some iffy source material and a fairly good sound mix alongside some mediocre extras. This is probably worth a rental for genre buffs.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.