Seeing a film like Session 9 just reaffirms that there are truly great films still being made.While many including the filmmakers will find comparisons to Don't Look Now, The Shining, and even a nod to The Changeling, Session 9 still stands on its own as a most effective, brooding experience of dread -- and that's a good thing! I found the style and tension more genuine than the grandiose The Shining, and Session 9 relies mostly on real fears and no gratuitous material to entertain. This film wants to creep you out and that's its soul purpose. No pretty young GAP models, no <more>
trendy MTV-influenced rap/metal soundtrack, no breasts, no giggle-inducing decapitation effects. If you want those, by all means go watch something else as there are plenty other films that offer that to those with short attention spans. If you want to be drawn INTO a film, a place of fear, and THINK as well, Session 9 is like a therapy session of nightmares.The story is simple and complex at the same time, as workers removing asbestos from the massive Danvers Mental Hospital slowly unravel along with secrets from taped audio recordings of a former patient. I never saw the characters' backgrounds as "underdeveloped" as some have complained -- you don't need to know EVERYTHING about these guys and besides, more information about them would have slowed the film down even more, and its nice, brooding pace is just right as it is. And don't worry if some of the things that seem like "clues" are left unresolved, that's part of the fun. Just like I still say many of the weird "clues" in David Lynch's works like Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive are just there to be weird and draw you in, not that they actually have any direct connection to the main story.The actual Danvers Hospital is an amazing setting as the whole structure is a character all it's own and will disturb you without it having to do much but just BE there in the film. The minimalistic soundtrack is unsettling and downright perfect I even bought it on CD and am still trying to figure out why it attracts me so much, playing it in the background while, say, typing away something like this.... .Each actor does a fine job -- yes, even David Caruso some of you need to get off his back! as a guy who seems to get a bit impatient yet maintaining a sense of calm. Peter Mullan, Steven Gevedon, Josh Lucas, and Brendan Sexton III seem like real, regular blue collar guys. It's refreshing to see a film not insecure in having a mature, rough-edged cast. By giving you a sense that these guys are real yes, even though they tend to be slacking off quite a bit in places when they're supposed to get the job done in a week , the quiet dread of the story will draw you in and you'll be absorbed completely. Of course, if you appreciate less flashy films like this, you'll agree it's damn near perfect. Oh, to those here on IMDb who criticized the scene with a jar of peanut butter left on the floor, welllll, think about this: considering the state of its consumer, do you think that whoever left it there cared where the container was disposed? Man, do you people get picky over the strangest things! Whatever may seem implausible in the story or the characters' actions really doesn't wreck the film, as it is to be appreciated much for its atmosphere and story. I didn't find the ending to be so hard to understand at all, those that had their mind set that they didn't like this film were too busy being angry to just sit back and let everything present itself quite clearly.If this film is categorized as horror then it's one of the best I've ever seen, definitely one of the best in years. It takes a LOT to scare me, and there's one specific scene with Josh and his experience in the basement that caused a wave of tingling goosebumps all over my body. It was exhilarating to be scared that effectively by a single scene! Folks, you can't trash this film because it doesn't give you easy explanations or allows you to have some cheap voyeuristic thrills. Many of you who didn't like Session 9 seemed to know from reading its summary that it wasn't offering slam-bang entertainment. If you like your mind to be stimulated and love being absorbed in mysterious and wondrous storytelling, Session 9 is by my definition a flawless piece of work. For anyone else, I'd just say........."What are YOU doing here....?"
My husband and I had been excited about seeing SESSION 9 ever since we'd heard positive things about it from friends. Well, this chiller lived up to their praise and then some! By the time SESSION 9 ended, I felt like someone had been holding a knife to my throat for 100 minutes. I've never seen director/co-writer Brad Anderson's romantic comedy NEXT STOP WONDERLAND, but after sitting riveted and cowering in my seat throughout SESSION 9, I had a hard time imagining Anderson tackling anything even remotely lighthearted! Even when SESSION 9's blue-collar heroes exchange <more>
wisecracks, there's nothing jokey about the film; this isn't your ironic, self-mocking, postmodern kind of horror flick a la SCREAM. Speaking of lightheartedness, I knew Vin was as profoundly affected by SESSION 9 as I was because he never once leaned over and made any quips to me about anything happening onscreen, a rarity for my hubby! :- Basically, there are two kinds of horror films: 1 the rollercoaster thrill ride kind, usually with cool F/X and inventive violence, which manage to be both scary and exhilarating at the same time such as JAWS or SCREAM and 2 the moody psychological thriller, usually character-driven rather than F/X driven think HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER or THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT . Interestingly, the original 1963 version of THE HAUNTING fit in the #2 category and the 1999 version fit more in the #1 category; but I digress... In the more emotional, realistic horror films, you might say the terror comes from, to borrow a phrase from FORBIDDEN PLANET, "monsters from the id." FP rendered its monsters from the id in animation form, but SESSION 9 doesn't need to. There's a sense of dread from the very first frame, with an askew camera angle on what seems to be an electric chair in an otherwise empty, long-neglected room. The sharp, sudden sound effects passing cars sound like jets in this movie! and eerie, backwards-sounding music by Climax Golden Twins not at all what I'd have expected from Executive Music Producer Carson Daly of MTV fame creeped me out, too. Having said all that, SESSION 9 isn't really a film about imagery, special effects, or gore. In fact, there isn't much gore at all until the end, and even then it's plausible, real-world kind of gore, not some kind of Grand Guignol over-the-top bloodletting. It's a truly intense, compelling nightmare about decent people and how, under pressure, their flaws and vulnerabilities and moments of bad judgment may lead to horror and tragedy for themselves and everyone in their orbit. I want to talk on and on about this film, and yet I don't want to, because I'm afraid of spoiling the shocks and suspense for you. I will tell you, however, that the protagonists are members of a hazardous materials removal team embarking on a job at the massive, imposing, long-abandoned Danvers State Mental Hospital a real place in Massachusetts, BTW. So no, the Danvers name is not a tip of the hat to REBECCA! :- . This bat-shaped behemoth of a building is so remarkable that it feels like a character in its own right. But even before the men set foot in Danvers, the stage is set for tension and trouble. Desperate to get the Danvers job, boss man Gordon Peter Mullan , a recent Scottish émigré to the U.S. and new father of a sickly, fussy baby, bids low and promises that he and his team can finish the job in one week. Crew chief Phil David Caruso is unhappy because he thinks 2 or 3 weeks would be more realistic, plus he doesn't think much of crew member Hank Josh Lucas , the weaselly troublemaker who stole Phil's girl. Then there's Gordon's wet-behind-the-ears, dark-fearing teenage nephew Jeff Brendan Sexton III ; in one scene, he's trapped in a hallway where each light goes out in rapid succession, making it look like the darkness is chasing the poor kid. Finally, there's on-again, off-again law student Mike co-writer Stephen Gevedon, who for some reason reminded me of a younger, handsomer, more rugged Jeremy Piven , whose lawyer dad was involved in a case that contributed to Danvers being shut down. Once inside the grim old complex, surrounded by peeling paint, water stains, graffiti, creepy old equipment, and the various patients' memorabilia from the old days, Hank finds a veritable treasure trove in the morgue's incinerator, Mike finds compelling audio tapes of a multiple-personality patient's sessions, and the place's overall eeriness begins to work everybody's nerves. But is it that the building is in some way haunted, or are the guys really being haunted by their own demons? That's the fiendish beauty of SESSION 9: just when you think you've got it pegged as a haunted-asylum thriller or a revenge thriller or a cross between THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE or whatever, it confounds your expectations. Soon you're too wrapped up in the mounting madness and suspense to sit there second-guessing. Every member of the superb cast gets you rooting for them and sympathizing with their characters even Lucas as Hank is engaging in his own sneaky, self-absorbed way , so their unraveling has real emotional heft unlike, say, the snarky, cocky trio in THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. I must admit I took a sadistic glee in watching those self-important little jerks degenerating into terrified, jibbering wrecks, whereas my heart went out to SESSION 9's protagonists . As budget-conscious parents of a young child, Vinnie and I could especially identify with Gordon; the writing and Mullan's poignant portrayal of a strong man slowly being overwhelmed by circumstances perfectly brought out the pressures of new parenthood and providing for a family. After the film was over, Vinnie likened it to HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, not only in its true-to-life feel and its raw intensity, but in that it shakes you up so profoundly that you can't bear to watch it more than once. If you're into psychological horror, you owe it to yourself to see SESSION 9 at least once. It's one of the most powerful, disturbing films I've ever seen, and definitely one of 2001's best and most unfairly underseen movies.
Creepiest horror film in years... (by Dextroampheta-Man)
Session 9 is the creepiest horror film I've seen in years. Brad Anderson has made a movie that is subtle, and features actors playing everyday people who not only act and talk like real people which means none of the usual horror atrocities of going off in the dark alone, etc , but also aren't killed off one by one according to their billing in the credits. The tension builds slowly, without a cheap shock scene in sight, until it is almost unbearable. Towards the end, the plot runs out of steam and the twists are a bit anti-climatic. However, everything is so well-crafted and <more>
executed in this picture, from the writing, cinematography and acting to the use of sound and digital film, that it's a moot point. Anyone with an ounce of interest in the horror genre should rent this little known gem.
Everything about this movie impressed me. The script was lean and inventive, the direction stylish without being overblown, the acting top notch. Even the shot-on-video cinematography looked great with the exception of one or two exterior shots that had a hint of video look to it, most everything else was "filmic" and artistic .I also appreciate any horror movie that can generate real tension and suspense from imagination and suggestion rather than relying on lame and lazy tricks that populate most horror movies if something as limp as Urban Legends can be called a horror movie <more>
.First rate film and I recommend to anyone who appreciates a thinking-man's horror film.
don't watch alone, but watch it in the dark (by mals13)
I work at a video store and when customers ask me what's a good horror movie that will actually get to them, I don't suggest any of the Freddy or Jason movies. Those are for fans, and I don't consider them to be genuinely frightening. Session 9 is, most definitely, genuinely frightening. It takes place at a mental hospital that is legend where I live. So most people know what I'm talking about when I say Danvers State Mental Hospital. It is one of the few psychologically affective movies that I've ever seen. It takes the audience on a ride through a building that seems <more>
alive to it's visitors, and forces the audience to resolve for themselves why things are happening to each character. If you want a movie that is challenging and thought-provoking, this is the one. I always tell my customers to watch this movie in the dark, but not to watch it alone. Just be aware that if there is any distraction during the movie you'll have many questions about it. I hope you enjoy it as much I as do every time I watch it!
Madness is just overactive curiosity. (by Spikeopath)
Session 9 is directed by Brad Anderson who also co-writes the screenplay with Stephen Gevedon. It stars Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Josh Lucas, Brendan Sexton III and Stephen Gevedon. Music is scored by Climax Golden Twins and cinematography is by Uta Briesewitz.Danvers State Hospital AKA: State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers, The Danvers Lunatic Asylum, and The Danvers State Insane Asylum , Massachusetts. Built in 1874, opened in 1878 and closed in 1992. The home to misery, madness, tragedies and troubling treatments. Five men from an asbestos removal company, each with issues or points to <more>
prove, enter the vast bat shaped structure under the promise of a big pay off to get the job done in one week. But over the course of the week money will be the last thing on their minds.Psychological horror at its finest, Session 9, in the hands of Brad Anderson, pretty much gets everything right in this most skin itching of sub-genres. Like the ghost story splinter of horror, setting is absolutely everything, and few, if any? Horror settings are as imposing or eerie as the one time Danvers State Hospital. Sadly demolished in 2006/7 to make way for an apartment complex bastard property developers have no respect outside of the purse , the place positively oozes unease throughout the movie. With Anderson choosing to shoot his film on videotape, this further aids the sense of realism and palpable dread, and although it isn't a stretch of the mind to think about some of the misery that played out in reality at Danvers, Anderson and his photographer Briesewitz ensure that it never leaves our conscious. Tone is set from the off as being slow burn, this is perfect as it allows us to get a grasp of the characters, their psychological make ups and narrative worth.With the Danvers facility proving to be the extra character, all things come together seamlessly to gnaw away at the viewers. It's a devilishly odd thing to say, but as the story and characters are given room to breath, the audience who have immersed themselves in the picture will start to feel claustrophobic, and then for the night time sequences, even achluophobic. It's pitch perfect pacing by Anderson, who prior to unleashing the unnerving finale, has pulled us and his excellent cast slowly through a labyrinth of dank corridors, wards, treatment rooms, caged stairwells and a morgue. Even on the outside during daylight hours everything feels bleak, either with characters loomed over by the building, or on a roof chatting while Gothic turrets watch over them menacingly, the ghosts and bitterness of Danvers Hospital exist fully in Anderson's movie.Story links a tape recording found by Mike Gevedon with that of the workers' unfolding plight. The tape tells of 9 sessions with a troubled patient named Mary Hobbes, to say anymore would be spoilerish, but for the record in this writers eyes it's the creepiest tape recording in horrorville. Add in the odd hospital prop such as a lone wheelchair, a hydrotherapy bath or an orbitoclast! Well you get the picture I'm sure. Climax Golden Twins provide a suitably jarring score, where disjointed noises and elongated tonal strains further enhance the pervading disquiet. Picture only falls down slightly with silly plot error involving a furnace, and for some folk the ending will inevitably be met with dissatisfaction. I liked it plenty but I also feel they could have gone another way with it. But it does work well and isn't a cop out, and certainly it's better than the alternate ending available in the extras section of home disc formats.It's a horror film aimed at a certain horror fan, the one who has the patience to enjoy slow burn psychological pin prickery. All played out expertly by cast and film makers at a naturally unsettling location. 9/10
Imperfect but smart and genuinely creepy (by lajaunie)
With a brilliant premise, "Session 9" is a slow build of genuine atmospheric creepiness. More akin to Nicolas Roeg's classic "Don't Look Now" than more recent horror fare with high body counts, director Brad Anderson effectively builds tension in layers of voiceovers and mostly subtle foreshadowing to build to a climax of madness, with sparing use of the cheaper horror devices. Unfortunately the characters are not as fleshed out as one would have hoped, so we are left with some unanswered questions we would have liked to have met Gordon's family and <more>
Hank's girlfriend. Why did Mike drop out of law school? . Though the subtle horrors of this film may fail to grasp the short attention spans of younger moviegoers who consider "I Know What You Did Last Scream" to be the de facto standard of the genre, this is a very cleverly executed, if imperfect, thriller.
Definately worth seeing...not what I expected though (by mumcity)
I had read a lot on Session 9 before going to see it and had certain expectations. Although it started out slowly, the story was good. The "scary" parts were fewer and farther between than I expected and there was some mild gore at the end. The psychology and personalities were what I found most interesting. As the days passed after seeing the movie, I found myself remembering what I had thought to be insignificant things, and putting more of the subtle "creepy" things together.
Brilliantly realised horror with weak ending (by mattieclifton)
Session 9 is a welcome return to the type of film whose horror relies not on cheap-thrill multi-decibel glissandos, jump-cuts and viscera although it has its share of that , but on strong interplay between characters, and the gradual realisation that the worst things you can imagine are not "out there", but inside your own mind.The characters are true to life, with Gordon, the head of the asbestos-clearing team played by Peter Mullan, who also shone in the excellent My Name is Joe being especially well-drawn. His stressful situation at home intrudes more and more into his working <more>
day. From the start we know he has to take this job to stay in business, and this means the team only has one week to clear the building.Work at the asylum begins normally enough, but as the truth about what happened in the mental asylum comes slowly to light through the archive tapes of "Session 9" , the team begins to fall apart. One worker discovers a hoard of coins and valuables, and then goes missing. Paranoia runs rampant among the remaining characters, and accusations fly. At this point, we don't know who to trust. To some extent, all the characters become possessed by the atmosphere of the asylum.It's clear there's evil at work. However, as disturbing as the backstory is, it doesn't tie in well enough with present events to tell us for certain where this evil originates. Is it something dormant in the asylum, awakening with the team's intrusion? Or is it a potential for harm within all of us? Whichever it is, the conclusion is horrifying and effective.In a sense, there are two stories here, both told intelligently, but the connection between them isn't quite strong enough, and you're left feeling only mildly cheated. That said, this is still a disturbing, powerful film with scenes which will stay with you for a long time.