Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brad Anderson|
|Music by||Climax Golden Twins|
|Edited by||Brad Anderson|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Session 9 is a 2001 American psychological horror film directed by Brad Anderson and written by Anderson and Stephen Gevedon. The film stars David Caruso, Peter Mullan, Stephen Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle, Josh Lucas, and Brendan Sexton III as an asbestos abatement crew who begin to experience growing tensions while working in an abandoned mental asylum, which is paralleled by the gradual revelation of a former patient's disturbed past through recorded audio tapes of the patient's regression sessions.
The film takes place in and around the Danvers State Mental Hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts, which was partially demolished five years after the film was made. While the film was not a financial success, Session 9 was moderately well-received critically and is considered a cult film.
Gordon Fleming, the owner of an asbestos abatement company, makes a bid to remove asbestos from the Danvers State Hospital, which was abandoned fifteen years prior. Desperate for money, he promises to complete the job in one week. His crew include Mike, a law school dropout who is knowledgable about the asylum's history; Phil, who is dealing with his grief over a recent breakup by chain-smoking marijuana; Hank, a gambling addict; and Jeff, Gordon's nyctophobic nephew.
While surveying the job site, Gordon hears a disembodied voice that greets him by name, but ignores it. As the men begin their job, Mike discovers a box containing nine audio-taped sessions with Mary Hobbes, a patient who suffered from dissociative identity disorder. Mike begins listening to the tapes in the ensuing days, which contain sessions in which Mary's psychologist attempts to unveil details surrounding a crime she committed at her home in Lowell, Massachusetts two decades prior; in the sessions, Mary exhibits numerous personalities who have unique voices and demeanors. Meanwhile, while removing asbestos from tunnels running beneath the hospital, Hank discovers a cache of antique Morgan dollar coins and other valuables scattered from the crematory. Late that night, Hank covertly returns to the hospital to retrieve the items, and discovers an orbitoclast among them. Hank becomes frightened by a series of noises, and witnesses a shadowy figure in the tunnel. As he flees, he is confronted by an unknown assailant.
When Hank fails to show up to work the next day, the others learn he broke up with his girlfriend, and speculate he may have won money gambling and left town. An additional worker, Craig McManus, is hired to take Hank's place. During working hours, Gordon repeatedly attempts to contact his wife, Wendy, but she screens his calls. He confides in Phil that he slapped her after she inadvertently splashed him with a pot of boiling water, and that she refuses to answer his calls or let him see their infant daughter. In a stairwell in the hospital, Jeff witnesses Hank staring out a window wearing sunglasses, talking to himself. When Jeff retrieves the others, Hank has vanished.
The men split up to search for Hank, while Mike instead is compelled to continue listening to the tapes. Jeff and Phil separately descend into the tunnels to search for Hank; Phil finds him, half-nude, still wearing sunglasses, and muttering to himself. Shortly after, the generator runs out of fuel, leaving Jeff trapped in absolute darkness. Mike restores the electricity and continues listening to the ninth session tape, which reveals that one of Mary's malignant personalities, "Simon," was responsible for her stabbing her little brother and parents to death. Meanwhile, Phil finds Gordon in Mary's former hospital room, staring at photos from his daughter's baptism which he has pasted to the wall. Jeff subsequently emerges from the tunnels, resurfacing in an outbuilding, and is attacked by an unseen assailant at the company van.
The following day, Gordon arrives at the hospital and finds Hank wrapped in visqueen in one of the rooms, the orbitoclast protruding from his eye. Gordon is confronted by Phil, who repeatedly tells him to "wake up" before vanishing in front of him. Craig enters the room and witnesses Gordon standing over Hank, who is barely alive. Gordon attacks Craig, forcing him in a headlock before pulling the orbitoclast from Hank's eye socket and stabbing it into his. Gordon, in a dissociated state, proceeds to find the bodies of each of his crew members lain out in various rooms in the hospital, and recounts his murdering each of them. He also recalls his killing Wendy, his infant daughter, and pet dog after Wendy spilled the boiling water on him.
Distraught, Gordon confusedly attempts to call his home to apologize to Wendy. As he stares at the bloody scene, an excerpt from the ninth session tape plays: During it, Mary's doctor asks her, "And where do you live, Simon?" to which "Simon" responds: "I live in the weak and the wounded, Doc."
Conception and production
Session 9 was director Brad Anderson's first horror film, after directing two romantic comedy films, Next Stop Wonderland (1998) and Happy Accidents (2000). The film was inspired by a murder that took place in Boston, where Anderson grew up, in the mid-1990s, in which a man supposedly killed his wife after she accidentally burnt his dinner, then cut out her heart and lungs and put them in his backyard on a stake. Based on the Richard Rosenthal case.
Most of the film was shot in a small section of the Danvers State Asylum; according to David Caruso, the rest of the building was "unsafe" for shooting. Caruso also claims the sets didn't need to be dressed as all the props featured in the film were already there inside the building.
It was one of the first motion pictures to be shot in 24p HD digital video, which shoots at 24 frames-per-second like film, as opposed to regular digital video which shoots at 30 frames-per-second.
Session 9 received mixed to positive reviews from critics. The film currently holds a 63% approval rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on sixty-seven reviews, with a weighted mean score of 6.2/10.
Some critics praised the film's dark, eerie atmosphere and lack of gore. Entertainment Weekly called the film "a marvel of vérité nightmare atmosphere." Rolling Stone called it "a spine-tingler", and praised Brad Anderson's direction. Los Angeles Times said of the film: "Session 9 is so effective that its sense of uncertainty lingers long after the theater lights have gone up." Bloody Disgusting ranked the film fifth in its list of the twenty best horror films of the 2000s, writing, "Session 9 isn't just a cheap, hack 'n' slash, instantly-forgettable type horror film, but a psychologically probing, deeply unsettling journey off the edge and into the abyss of the human mind." Slant Magazine favorably compared it to the 1973 film Don't Look Now, writing, "Anderson's creeper is nowhere near as profound, but the film's old-fashioned pacing and revelatory camerawork bring to mind [Nicolas] Roeg's uniquely terrifying dreamworlds."
Some reviewers criticized the film's ending. A negative review came from Variety, who wrote, "while pic works up a nervously eerie paranoia, it finally doesn't know what to do with what it sets up." San Francisco Chronicle said, "the story doesn't quite pay off, characters are underwritten and the surprise ending is contrived and unconvincing." The Village Voice wrote, "the script for Session 9 is so underwritten that even such lively character actors as David Caruso, Peter Mullan and Brendan Sexton III are left stranded."
In reviewing the film for the 2003 edition of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Edward Bryant contends that Simon is not necessarily an alternate personality of the former patient Mary, but rather a malignant genius loci. He also points out that the deleted scenes included on the DVD help fill out the narrative. Critics have also pointed out similarities and references to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980).
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||August 21, 2001|
|Genre||Ambient, dark ambient|
The score to Session 9 was composed by Seattle, Washington-based experimental band Climax Golden Twins. The score is in an ambient and dark ambient vein. The soundtrack was released on August 21, 2001, through Milan Records. "Choke Chain" by Sentridoh is played over the closing credits of the film, but is not featured on the album.
- Track listing
All tracks written by Climax Golden Twins (Scott Colburn, Robert Millis, Jeffrey Taylor), except "Piece for Tape Recorder", written and recorded by Vladimir Ussachevsky.
|1.||"A Few Simple Up and Down Jerks"||4:35|
|3.||"Noon, About Noon"||5:06|
|4.||"I Live in the Gut"||6:11|
|7.||"I Want to Talk to Amy"||1:13|
|8.||"I Saw You"||2:01|
|12.||"Piece for Tape Recorder" (Vladimir Ussachevsky)||5:38|
- "Session 9". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Los Angeles, California: American Film Institute. Archived from the original on April 8, 2019.
- "Session 9 (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
- Koehler, Robert (August 6, 2001). "Session 9". Variety. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Tobias, Scott (November 24, 2010). "Session 9 | Film | The New Cult Canon | The A.V. Club". avclub.com. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Cavagna, Carlo (August 2001). "AboutFilm – David Caruso and Brad Anderson on Session 9 (2001)". aboutfilm.com. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
- "Session 9 (2001) – Trivia – IMDb". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
- "History – Cinemabox & Unisoft Present Fantasia 2012". fantasiafestival.com. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- "Session 9 (2001) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- "Session 9 – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Gleiberman, Owen (August 8, 2001). "Session 9". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Travers, Peter (August 17, 2001). "Session 9". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Thomas, Kevin (August 10, 2001). "Scary 'Session 9' Takes a Minimalist Approach". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 4 || Bloody DisgustingBloody Disgusting". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Gonzalez, Ed (July 30, 2001). "Session 9 | Film Review | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Guthmann, Edward (September 14, 2001). "Film Clips / Also Opening Today". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Taubin, Amy (August 7, 2001). "The Shinings". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Datlow, Ellen; Windling, Terri (2003). The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Annual Collection. Macmillan. p. LXXXVIII. ISBN 0-312-31425-6.
- Muir, John Kenneth (2010-06-07). "CULT MOVIE REVIEW: Session 9 (2001)". John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV. Archived from the original on 2018-02-04. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
- Tobias, Scott (2010-11-24). "Session 9". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on 2018-02-04. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
- Collins, Brian (2016-08-17). "Collins' Crypt: SESSION 9 Scares Me Even More Now". Birth.Movies.Death. Archived from the original on 2018-02-04. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
- Carruthers, Sean. "Session 9 – Original Soundtrack : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
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