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Session 9

March 25, 2011

Session 9 (2001)

BY John Leavengood

HOF’s CALL:        This review was done on special request from the big guy…The Hof(meyer).

MY CALL:              This movie is more about mind-teasing than story-weaving.  Dreams, paranoia, voices of subconscious or insanity or ghosts or who knows, a creepy chair, flashbacks, and a group of guys who are all really efficient at keeping each other on edge stack up to fuel a barrage of red herrings.  You viewers would be advised to watch this surprisingly mostly daytime-filmed creeper in the dark to keep you on your toes as you try to triage out the red herrings from the truth in this fog of madness.

It’s a nice ride, if you ask me.  I give it a “B+” for a serious horror movie.  I’d go higher, but the

scares didn’t make me jump.  I’d even give this a “B+” as a movie in general, not just as a horror.  Maybe not horror?  Rather this is more of a cerebral creeper than a horror.

IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:            Hmmm.  This is a toughie…Jacob’s Ladder, perhaps?

FOR the SUPERFANS:                     The director, Brad Anderson, was also responsible for The Machinist and the TV series Fringe.  He’s good at paranoia and suspense.

                This movie follows a hazardous materials crew on the job.  In this case, the job is an historic site: a mental health facility that has been abandoned for almost twenty years.  Abandoned loony bins make for good creepy settings.  They’re filthy, they’re walls are decorated with schizophrenic collages, and the night security guard always has some creepy warning for whoever plans on going in.  The guard warns that besides homeless squatters and vandalous punks, some of the hospital’s disturbed “residents” have tried to return to the only “home” they ever knew from time to time.

                During a tour of the hospital viewers can breathe a sigh of relief that the set design, lighting and camera work are all A+ quality.  During that same tour we learn that the crew leader is desperate, offering an impressive bid for the job that will get his team a $10000 bonus.  I’d stick any one-week job out for that kind of bonus.  I don’t care what creepy fare ensues.

                We know the trail of bread crumbs has started when one of the crew (Mike) finds a box of recorded therapy sessions of a multiple-personality victim of terrible abuse.  There are nine sessions, as they progress we meet new personalities, and each personality comes with an unsettling voice.  He listens to them (in order) on his lunch break, after work, or for a little bit at a time when he sneaks off.  As the movie progresses we learn that this crew member is a law school dropout who knows a little too much about the psychology of murder, lobotomy practices and the history of their work site.

                Anyway, weird things start happening and Mike is not the only one arousing suspicion.  Tension dramatically rises between two of the other crew members.  Mike gets edgier, himself.  The crew leader, Gordon, is getting strung out over his wife, pressures that come with recently having a child, a meeting the one-week deadline for the job.  Before you know it accusations are getting thrown around like roman candles in a teenaged alley duel.

                This movie has a great cast including David Caruso and Josh Lucas.  Yet somehow it flew under my radar when it was released (theatrical release?).  I first came across it in Blockbuster a couple years after it came out.  Now, having seen it a few times, I can say that this unique creeper is something that EVERY horror/thriller fan should have on their resume.  It’s SOOOOO different!  While the ending left me guessing, it wasn’t at the expense of my enjoyment.  I’d make it a point to check out some of the deleted scenes and director’s commentary.  It’s interesting to see where the director was going with some recurring elements of this movie.

                For sure, see this.  It’s a must.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. The dude from Session 7 (Erik) permalink
    November 30, 1999 12:00 am

    Great pick! Definitely one of my favorite horror movies of all time! I’d like to add that it’s one of the very few horror movies that takes place almost entirely during the day and not at night. Also, there’s zero cheap scare tactics – it gradually fills you with dread as the movie culminates in a fitting horror movie ending.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      February 20, 2013 7:24 pm

      Speaking of daytime horror…the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and the ensuing movies) are also largely daytime set. Good call, Erik!


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