Studio: Chemical Burn Entertainment
Director: Samuel M. Johnson
Writer: Samuel M. Johnson
Producer: Samuel M. Johnson
Stars: Maura Murphy, Chris Schleicher, David Alan Graf, Allison Sieke, Jennifer Elizabeth Lawrence, Simone Frajnd
A teenaged runaway is kidnapped by a religious zealot determined to alter her state of mind through nine days of physical and psychological torture.
Reviewing “9 Days: Whipped, Chained, and Tortured by a Psychopath” is somewhat redundant when so much about the film is evident from the title alone. Aside from summing up the entire plot in just nine words, the name is like a sledgehammer to the face about what awaits within its 80-minute runtime. The title is also a precursor to the production quality and overall value without having to witness a single frame of the film. Face it. Words you are unlikely to ever hear: “And the Oscar goes to… 9 Days: Whipped, Chained, and Tortured by a Psychopath.”
“9 Days” was funded through Kickstarter, so its prospective audience is partly to blame for its existence. In fairness to them, I will allot the benefit of the doubt and assume that anyone not related to the filmmakers would think twice about that credit card charge had they known this would be how that money was spent. If this is indicative of the level of quality likely to come from a crowd funded horror movie, then there is reason for great pause the next time a genre film calls out for a donation. Among the interesting tidbits on the Kickstarter project page is this obvious revelation: “Many of the people working on (9 Days) have not made a feature before…” You don’t say?
95 backers contributed $7,021 towards a goal of only $6,500. That is a paltry sum for funding a movie, and it shows in the finished project. It is already a telling fact that none of the proper film producers had that amount on hand to invest themselves. Or perhaps they knew better.
Maura Murphy plays 18-year-old runaway Danielle. Ms. Murphy is an attractive woman and I know not to speculate on the true age of any female. I will say only this about how well she fits the age of the character: Murphy played the part of a “Teen Girl” in a 1996 short titled “The Confession.” She plays a teenager again in “9 Days,” which was shot in 2011. That is a 15-year gap, so the math speaks for itself as to whether or not she actually looks of that age.
Chris Schleicher plays Virgil, a religious zealot who picks up Danielle as she hitchhikes to escape her abusive foster father. Virgil then proceeds to torture Danielle in his basement for the next week and a half in an attempt to give her a rebirth that is never fully explained.
The polite way to phrase it is to say that Schleicher is thoroughly unconvincing in the role. He has no more than four different ways to deliver a line and ends every other segment of dialogue with a half-smile chuckle that is supposed to suggest psychotic when it really suggests poor acting. It is clear from his first appearance that he does not have the skills for the part, yet he is called upon to carry half of the film.
In addition to “Horror,” IMDB lists additional genres for “9 Days” as “Romance” and “Comedy.” It fits neither of those classifications. Finding laughs in a film featuring incestuous molestation, kidnapping, and torture is a lost cause. Ironically, “Lost Cause” is also the name of the production company that made the film. Coincidentally, “lost cause” also describes any endeavor to garner satisfaction or entertainment from the film.
The burning question about the merit of “9 Days” is for whom was this film made? The production is far too amateur and the horror is nowhere near as visceral as “Hostel” or “Saw” to make the movie of interest to torture terror fans. And S&M enthusiasts would fare better with a movie more directly tailored to those tastes. Those going in with an expectation of finding arousal or allure in the onscreen action will be met with resounding disappointment.
The true torture is inflicted upon the audience. In actuality, what is depicted in “9 Days” is relatively tame. Danielle is not tied, chained, or whipped for any type of sexual pleasure. That element does not even exist in the film. She is actually given David Blaine-style endurance tests that involve holding her breath underwater, lying for hours in an ice cube bath, and having her leg branded with a fondue stick. The whipping is a self-inflicted religious flogging with a small cat o’ nine tails like medieval monks are prone to do in late-night movies.
The other truth is that “9 Days” is quite frankly boring. Virgil does not appear to take any perverse pleasure from tormenting his hostage, claiming he does it for her benefit, rendering each painful scene pointless from a story perspective. The supposed religious angle is not even interesting. Virgil proclaims himself to be a Christian out to purify Danielle by breaking her will. Exactly how that is to be achieved in just nine days or what the ordeals specifically represent are unanswered questions. So is the question of why anyone would take an interest in this film.
From top to bottom, every aspect of “9 Days” is pedestrian. The audio sounds as if it was recorded solely from an in-camera microphone, regardless of how far away the actors might be. A crewmember’s feet can be seen walking around the top of the frame in one scene. A thoroughly annoying German leitmotif accompanies various scenes in some failed effort to add whimsy or to counterbalance the torture. The dialogue is comically bad and poorly delivered, making the attempted mind game between captor and captive as laughable as it is unbelievable. The story is threadbare and the supposed horror is dull.
For bondage and torture horror fans, “9 Days: Whipped, Chained, and Tortured by a Psychopath” packs as much punch as an episode of “My Little Pony.” For everyone else, this sloppy production may as well be titled “80 Minutes: Bored, Disappointed, and Tortured by a Terrible Movie.”
Review Score: 10