If you’re looking for an authentic horror experience, Session 9 is here to provide you with one. Directed by now famous Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Transsiberian) this little gem has somehow managed to stay under the radar. It’s not pretentious, nor glamorous but more visceral and raw. The acting was excellent and it had to be because a lot of the atmosphere depended on it. David Caruso and Peter Mullan were especially convincing conveying all the suspense and terror very effectively.
Although shot in the actual Danvers State Hospital, it’s not based on a true story. On the other hand, actors did report strange incidents during the production. The more we learn about the practices that went on behind closed doors in these institutions the more they become frightening. I’m still trying to wrap my head around some of the horrifying methods they used to treat patients there. The bleak past is mirrored by the decrepit environment we will find ourselves in here. Everything in this movie is giving you this uncomfortable feeling that something is wrong. And that “it’s going to get ugly”.
Times are tough for Gordon Fleming, owner of a small asbestos removal company. He needs money fast, so he jumps at the opportunity to fix up an abandoned psychiatric hospital. After promising to do the job within just two weeks, Gordon calls up the rest of his crew, all dealing with serious personal issues. However, all of them will pale in comparison with what awaits them at this place.
Abandoned hospitals are always a good place to set your horror story, with their spooky vibe. And immediately after this sentence comes the following about the number of horror movies that were connected to abandoned hospitals. I mean for fucks sake is there no abandoned fruit factories, strip or video clubs? Can’t we diversify a little? Session 9 is not a typical horror movie, that you watch and feel mildly scarred. Atmospheric, mysterious, and above all creepy it forces the viewer to think about what’s going on. What are the characters are going to do now and how this whole thing is going to end. This burden that you will carry during the movie proved to be too much for a lot of people, hence a bit lower rating.
I also liked the focus on your ordinary working men, just trying to make ends meet in this fucked up world we live in. The characters feel like they’ve walked in from real life onto the set of a movie carrying their problems with them. You empathize with them and this gives Session 9 a very personal vibe. It gets under your skin real easy and it will take a while to get out. So, I highly recommend you check out this underrated horror movie that is finally getting the recognition it deserves in recent years. Be one of those who will discover it before it becomes real famous.
Director: Brad Anderson
Writers: Brad Anderson, Stephen Gevedon
Cast: David Caruso, Paul Guilfoyle, Josh Lucas, Stephen Gevedon, Larry Fessenden
Fun Facts: Actor David Caruso reports in the official Production Notes that he saw “something pass my window” when shooting inside the Bonner Medical Building of Danvers State Hospital. “I didn’t want to tell anybody, because people would start looking at me strangely…”