THE NINTH CONFIGURATION (1980)
Article 5105 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by William Peter Platty
Featuring Stacy Keach, Scott Wilson, Jason Miller
What it is: Drama
A new psychiatrist arrives at a castle where an assortment of military men suffering from psychoses are kept. He is intent on using all his power to cure them, but he may be suffering from his own problems…
William Peter Blatty directed this movie based off his own novel, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane”, and he claims that it’s the true sequel to his novel “The Exorcist”. It’s certainly not a sequel in the conventional sense; for one thing, it’s hardly a horror movie (though its exploration of madness nudges it up against the genre), and its sole real element of fantastic content (at the very end of the movie) belongs to the realm of the mystical rather than the horrific. Rather, it’s a thematic sequel; if “The Exorcist” was about evil, this is about good. One of the pitfalls of writing about good, or course, is that dramatically it’s less interesting than evil, but Blatty was wise enough to make it a story of redemption, which means it acknowledges an initial evil and keeps us aware that that evil could return. The movie itself starts out slowly as we get to know the characters and the environment, but it’s hardly uninteresting. The main thrust of the story doesn’t really become apparent until the second half of the movie, and then it becomes intense, powerful and quite sad. There are excellent performances from the whole cast, with Stacy Keach (as the psychiatrist) and Scott Wilson (as an astronaut who cracked up) giving the most memorable performances. I found the movie memorable and compelling, and I do recommend it with the warning that one should go in expecting something very different from THE EXORCIST.