A quick look at William Blatty’s writing credits will give you an idea of what to expect from his first film, The Ninth Configuration. Blatty is best known for his screenplay of The Exorcist which he adapted from his novel of the same name (he also directed The Exorcist III). Again, for The Ninth Gate, he converted his book, Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane, onto the big screen. The film is a mix of theological thriller, psychological horror and science fiction.
A former special marine, Colonel Kane (Stacy Keach), arrives to take charge at a large castle used by the US government as a mental asylum. The most famous resident is former astronaut Billy Cutshaw (Scott Wilson) who’s infamous after being dragged screaming from a capsule after aborting a moon mission. Colonel Fell (Ed Flanders) introduces him to the patients but Kane becomes obsessed by Cutshaw, becoming increasingly distracted surrounded by the menagerie of eccentric inmates.
The Ninth Configuration is a mysterious and obstinately uncategorisable film, refusing to show its hand until the very end. There are impressive performances from Keach, Wilson and Jason Miller in his attempts to direct dog Shakespeare. In the same spirit as One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest, The Ninth Configuration revels in causing mischief and bounds around with a twinkle in its eye, but balances this with intrigue and drama.
The Ninth Configuration is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Second Sight on Monday.