Monday, July 27, 2009

SESSION 9 (2001)


I have been thinking of what to write in this review for the past 48 hours since watching Brad Anderson's SESSION 9 for the first time. On a basic level its a psychological horror film. Revolving around the deteriorating mental condition of those within.

SESSION 9 revolves around an asbestos cleaning crew that secures a much needed job at an abandoned mental institute in Danvers, MA. What should be an average albeit rushed job encounters complications due to the long hours, stress and personal histories of the team. Gordon (Peter Mullan) is the owner of the company, and has a new baby at home who seems to be unnerving him quite a bit. Hank (Josh Lucas) is sleeping with Phil's (David Caruso) ex-girlfriend and law school failure Mike (Stephen Gevedon) begins to play old tapes documenting sessions of a girl with multiple personalities. As the tension between team members and their own minds begins to build one by one they seem to snap.

SESSION 9 captures the atmosphere, natural tension and down right creepiness that these old hospitals for the clinically insane possess. It is not often in this era of film that a psychological horror movie is smart, well written and perfectly executed. The film sets firm values in love and loyalty. We repeatedly see a short memory of Gordon getting out of his work van with flowers for his wife. Hank is depicted as an early 30s male who thinks its funny that he stole his co-workers girlfriend. It is this loyalty to love that can cause a decent man to lose control.

The events in SESSION 9 are built up slowly, and allow plenty of character development. Every character is very easy to relate with, which really helps the viewer become part of the film. You hinge on every word and each and every sign of body language. When Mike starts to play the tapes of the young girl named Mary Hobbes sessions with the doctor it acts as a soundtrack to the descent in to madness. As each tape plays we can clearly hear Mary's state declining further in to this psychosis as her alternate personalities split more frequently. The audio of the tapes makes for a perfect overlay of the events that are taking place at the hospital. Disappearances, betrayal, and plotting lead to deaths that don't stop building.

The final "reveal" sequence is one of the finest I have seen in a horror film in quite a while. Every end was tied, and it brought together a near perfect movie flawlessly. SESSION 9 is very reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING, and while very few movies in the genre come close to the quality that Kubrick's masterpiece does, Brad Anderson's SESSION 9 comes close.


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