Session 9

"OK"

Session 9 Review


A new entry in the recent trend toward more cerebral/psychological haunting movies that aim for something more than cheap, popcorn-spilling jolts, "Session 9" is blessed with a great concept but burdened by bland execution.

The hauntees are members of an asbestos haz-mat team hired to clean up Massachusetts' Danvers State Hospital, a vast loony bin abandoned in 1985 when Ronald Reagan slashed funding for mental institutions. Director Brad Anderson ("Next Stop, Wonderland") actually shot the film on location, and the eerie empty corridors of the joint are the film's most dynamic characters -- especially since Anderson props up his goosepimply atmosphere on the most incidental of chills, letting the viewer's cerebrum build tension all on its own.

It's an effective technique since the movie keeps you on edge for an hour and a half with very few genuine frights. One team member (Stephen Gevedon) takes his breaks in a basement storeroom, listening to tapes -- left behind by a doctor -- of a schizophrenic murderer cycling through multiple personalities.

Another team member (Josh Lucas, "The Deep End") sneaks back into the site overnight to abscond with a hidden stash of 19th Century silver dollars he discovered, only to be chased by something or someone through the pitch black labyrinth of hospital wards. He never shows up for work again.

These scenes build the foundation on which your mind runs wild, drawing its own conclusions. But the most tangible tension actually comes from the relationship between Peter Mullan ("The Claim") and David Caruso ("Proof of Life," "NYPD Blue") as long-time partners in the struggling asbestos removal company. They come to blows over outlandish scheduling fulfillment promises made in order to land this lucrative cleaning contract, and there may be double-crosses involved.

Danvers looks like a castle on the outside -- it seems luxurious, almost inviting. But inside its endless hallways of sterile tile walls are nothing if not foreboding. Anderson acknowledges this juxtaposition, especially in the picture's potently claustrophobic photography -- but he doesn't seem to know what he wants to do with it. He plants uncanny, obscure hints of ominous potential here and there as these men go about their work, sharing campfire-tale rumors about the place. But these signs and legends never build any momentum.

When Anderson finally pulls back the curtain in the last act, the biggest surprise is how anti-climactic the finale feels. This is in part because "Session 9" is ambiguous about how everything we've seen comes together, but mostly it's because when the action should be at a fever pitch, it's petering out instead.

Anderson inspires strong, composed performances from his cast (Mullan and Caruso are especially good) and his ambition to pull the horror genre away from histrionics and closer to real life makes the film an interesting experiment. But after all the understated yet carefully constructed shivers, there's just no payoff. "Session 9" ends with a shrug.



Session 9

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th September 2001

Box Office Worldwide: $374 thousand

Budget: $1.5M

Distributed by: USA Films

Production compaines: USA Films, Scout Productions, October Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Fresh: 42 Rotten: 25

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Gordon, as Phil, as Mike, as Hank, as Jeff, as Bill Griggs, as Craig McManus

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.