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

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

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.