Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brad Anderson|
|Music by||Climax Golden Twins|
|Edited by||Brad Anderson|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$1.6 million|
Session 9 is a 2001 American psychological horror film directed by Brad Anderson, written by Anderson and Stephen Gevedon, and starring David Caruso, Peter Mullan, Stephen Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle, Josh Lucas, and Brendan Sexton III. It follows an asbestos abatement crew who begin to experience growing tensions while working in an abandoned mental asylum; this is paralleled by the gradual revelation of a former patient's disturbed past through recorded audio tapes of her 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 in Massachusetts, makes a bid to remove asbestos from an abandoned psychiatric hospital. Desperate for money, he promises to complete the job in one week. His crew includes Mike, a law school dropout who is knowledgeable about the asylum's history; Phil, who is dealing with his grief over a recent breakup; Hank, a gambling addict; and Jeff, Gordon's nephew with a pathological fear of the dark.
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 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 silver dollar coins and other valuables scattered from the crematory. Late that night, Hank covertly returns to the hospital to retrieve the items, and discovers a lobotomy pick 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 plastic sheeting in one of the rooms, the lobotomy pick 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 lobotomy pick from Hank's eye socket and stabbing it into Craig′s. 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 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."
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 malevolent 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).
Scholar Heike Schwarz states that Session 9 "refers to DID [ Dissociative identity disorder ] and a possible possession with a demonic personality." M. Scott Peck also saw evil originating from weakness or cowardice.
Session 9 was director Brad Anderson's first horror film, after directing two romantic comedy films, Next Stop Wonderland (1998) and Happy Accidents (2000). Anderson describes Session 9 as an "American tragedy", and states that he and screenwriter Stephen Gevedon aimed "to subvert the conventions of the so-called horror genre that exists now", which he describes as "less horror than it is teen thriller."
The film's plot was inspired by the Richard Rosenthal case, 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. Anderson states that it was also "as you imagine, very much inspired by the location", Danvers State Asylum.
Don't Look Now, directed by Nicolas Roeg, was one inspiration for the film, for its sense of place and because the lead character realizes in the climax that he is at the heart of the mystery. Anderson has stated that he aimed to use sound to convey the plot as well as to generate "a creepy tone"; the sound design incorporated the subliminal use of animal and mechanical noises.
Most of the film was shot in a small section of the Danvers Asylum; according to actor David Caruso, the rest of the building was "unsafe" for shooting. Caruso also claims the sets did not need to be dressed as all the props featured in the film were already there inside the building. Elaborating Caruso said:
It was a place you never got comfortable in. It wasn't like day three and we were throwing water balloons because it was so much fun to be there. It was always scary. You can really feel the pain of the people that went through Danvers. It's a rough environment. It's not fun. It's on the film. They didn't have to dress any sets, or anything. All of that stuff was sitting there. The federal government walked away from it about thirty years ago. It was a terrifying location.
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 premiered at the Fantasia Festival in July 2001. It was released to theaters on August 10, playing on 30 screens. It ended its American theatrical run on October 18, grossing a total of $378,176. The film was a greater financial success abroad, earning $1.2 million internationally.
Session 9 received mixed to positive reviews from critics. The film currently holds a 64% approval rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 70 reviews, with a weighted mean score of 6.28/10.
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, which 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." Dave Kehr, in a mixed review for The New York Times, praises the "impeccable" performances and the dialogue's "authentic working-class snap", but criticizes the pacing which "often feels long and aimless", and concludes that the film "loses any sense of urgency or structure" because of Anderson's choice to leave the connections between events unstated.
|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 are 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.
- Tobias, Scott (November 24, 2010). "Session 9". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Datlow & Windling 2003, p. LXXXVIII.
- Muir, John Kenneth (June 7, 2010). "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 (November 24, 2010). "Session 9". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on February 4, 2018.
- Collins, Brian (August 17, 2016). "Collins' Crypt: SESSION 9 Scares Me Even More Now". Birth.Movies.Death. Archived from the original on February 4, 2018.
- Schwarz 2014, p. 296.
- Peck, M. Scott. (1983, 1988). People of the Lie: The hope for healing human evil. Century Hutchinson.
- Cavagna, Carlo (August 2001). "David Caruso and Brad Anderson on Session 9 (2001)". AboutFilm. Archived from the original on December 19, 2019.
- Beckerman, Jim (August 9, 2001). "Imagining the Worst". The Record. Hackensack, New Jersey. p. F-8 – via Newspapers.com.
- Bettina Prophete (2001). "The Brad Anderson Sessions: On "Session 9" and "Happy Accidents"". AMC. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
- Orange, B. Alan (July 23, 2001). "Agent Orange: Session 9 with Director Brad Anderson & David Caruso". MovieWeb. Archived from the original on January 16, 2020.
- "Session 9 (2001) – Trivia – IMDb". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
- "History – Cinemabox & Unisoft Present Fantasia 2012". fantasiafestival.com. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- "Imperial Cinéma". The Gazette. Montreal, Quebec. July 31, 2001. p. D8 – via Newspapers.com.
- "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.
- Bloody Disgusting Staff (December 18, 2009). "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 4". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012.
- Gonzalez, Ed (July 30, 2001). "Session 9". Slant Magazine. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Koehler, Robert (August 6, 2001). "Session 9". Variety. Archived from the original on November 11, 2010.
- Guthmann, Edward (September 14, 2001). "Film Clips / Also Opening Today". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco, California. Archived from the original on December 13, 2014.
- Taubin, Amy (August 7, 2001). "The Shinings". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
- Kehr, David (August 10, 2001). "Film Review; Getting More Than They Bargained For When They Submitted the Low Bid". The New York Times.
- Beierle, Chris (February 27, 2002). "Session 9: DVD Talk Review". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on January 16, 2020.
- "Session 9". Shout! Factory. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
- Carruthers, Sean. "Session 9 – Original Soundtrack : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- Datlow, Ellen; Windling, Terri (2003). The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Annual Collection. New York City, New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-31425-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Schwarz, Heike (2014). Beware of the Other Side(s): Multiple Personality Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder in American Fiction. Bielefeld, Germany: transcript Verlag. ISBN 978-3-839-42488-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Session 9|