Session 9 (2001) Movie Review
Written By: VB
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Brad Anderson
Producers: John Sloss, Dorothy Aufiero, David Collins, Michael Williams
Writers: Brad Anderson, Stephen Gevedon
Date Released: August 10, 2001
Peter Mullan as Gordon Fleming
David Caruso as Phil
Stephen Gevedon as Mike
Josh Lucas as Hank
Brendan Sexton III as Jeff
Paul Guilfoyle as Bill Griggs
Rating = 3/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
An abatement crew led by the seemingly distracted Gordon bids to take on the asbestos removal project for Danvers State Mental Hospital, an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Boston, within the span of just a week. Joined by his crew of four including Phil, who has been trying to move on from a recent breakup through smoking pot, law school dropout Mike, rowdy gambler Hank, and Gordon’s nyctophobic nephew Jeff, the team tries to get through the project all while trying to keep the forming tension from each other at bay. To complicate matters, Mike discovers a set of tapes detailing the horrifying past of one of the asylum’s previous patients.
There isn’t an ounce of gore shown throughout the film, that is because Session 9 (2001) isn’t meant to be a gore film at that. Now if you’re looking for something to that extent, there can be a few things considered, such as the way Gordon pulled out the lobotomy tool out of Hank’s head and thrusted into Craig’s in the film’s final scene. It doesn’t quite classify as much of a bloodshed but there’s something about the manner it’s done as well as how the camera seemed to focus on this part, creatively creating an uneasy feeling on the viewer’s end. There is also the unseen massacre of Gordon’s family which was left to be heard by the viewers, proposing an interpretation from the viewer’s imagination which seemed to be more terrifying to think about than to see.
The Grave Review
Session 9 (2001) is why we have fears of the dark. Here we have an abandoned mental asylum, a group of men who each have to deal with personal drama, the toll of isolation, one of them goes nuts — it’s clearly a recipe for disaster, and this tale isn’t something we haven’t heard from before. What separates Session 9 (2001) from the plethora of storylines it shares with is the way this film gradually builds up to a climax of doom. Viewers aren’t treated to the usual theatrics that are expected of horror films. They know it is a horror film, but what kind of horror is it exactly? Much like The Shining (1980), Session 9 (2001) paints true terror as whatever the place holds, slowly penetrating the person and creating a monster beyond recognition.
For Brad Anderson’s first horror film, the direction of Session 9 (2001) is commendable. It strays away from the formulaic ways most horror films are boxed in. It wasn’t a perfect film, but it did show that it’s something that has depth and didn’t want to rely on cheap scares, like the fact that there’s an ambiguity in the storyline that was left for the viewers to fill in. Sure, it could be confusing, but it is also clever to not have to paint every picture for the audience. There is also this foreshadowing of the terror taking place in the conversation between Hank and Jeff. This isn’t a notable scene, but this painted how the terror “gets inside you and stresses you” while pertaining to a piece of asbestos-covered wood, the piece a symbol for the asylum. It should also be taken into account that the film was actually shot in the Danvers State Hospital, which added into the eerie vibe that the film conjures.
The acting in Session 9 (2001) isn’t exactly peach but it was somehow effective to keep that “nobody knows something is going on” idea. Actor Peter Mullan’s sensible portrayal of a person’s slow descent into madness was fitting as we see someone who was trying to keep it together but ended up succumbing to their own horrors. His “zen” mindset was merely a facade to something that he was trying so hard to hide but failed miserably doing so.
While Session 9 (2001) wanted to illuminate insanity and leave viewers on their wits, it did fail on some aspects. The lack of details especially on the latter part of the film wasn’t exactly helpful and sort of led to a confusing conclusion.
It is for the above factors that Grave Reviews gives Session 9 (2001) three out of five graves.
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