Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brad Anderson|
|Produced by||John Sloss
|Written by||Brad Anderson
Brendan Sexton III
|Music by||Climax Golden Twins|
|Edited by||Brad Anderson|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Session 9 is a 2001 American independent 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 hypnotherapy 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.
The Danvers State Hospital has been closed since 1985. Gordon Fleming (Peter Mullan), the owner of a small asbestos removal company, is in a desperate financial bind and makes a bid to remove the decrepit hospital's asbestos. He is also a new father, and the stress of work and parenthood have been causing problems between him and his wife, Wendy. Gordon's team is small and eclectic. Mike (Stephen Gevedon) is a law school dropout, who is knowledgeable about the asylum's history. Phil (David Caruso) is filled with bitterness after losing his long-time girlfriend to Hank (Josh Lucas), another team member who can't resist taunting Phil. Phil has found solace in smoking marijuana. Jeff (Brendan Sexton III), Gordon's nephew, is the youngest member, and suffers from severe nyctophobia.
As work begins inside the hospital, Mike discovers a box marked "Evidence". It contains nine taped sessions with a patient named Mary Hobbes. Mike becomes engrossed in the interviews, which detail her dissociative identity disorder. Two of Hobbes' personalities, "Princess" and "Billy", are harmless and childlike. They both refer to another personality named "Simon", whom they refuse to discuss. During the sessions, it is revealed that something happened involving a knife and a china doll when Mary was fourteen.
Gordon opens up to Phil and admits that he hit Wendy after she accidentally spilled a pot of boiling water on him. Remorseful, he frequently talks to his wife on his cell phone and asks her forgiveness. In the tunnels running under the property, Hank finds a cache of antique Morgan dollar coins and other silver items; the objects were scattered from the hospital's nearby crematory. He returns one night to steal the artifacts and finds an orbitoclast. He hears odd sounds in the tunnels and finds an empty peanut butter jar, the same brand that Gordon brought home after their first day at the asylum. He senses someone behind him. Terrified, Hank tries to escape the tunnels, but he is attacked by an unseen assailant and disappears.
Gordon initially suspects that Phil murdered Hank. Jeff finds Hank alive, but Hank disappears again when Jeff returns with Gordon to confront him. The co-workers split up to find him. Phil eventually finds him sitting on the ground in one of the tunnels, half-naked and wearing sunglasses; he repeatedly asks, "What are you doing here?" One by one, each of the men become lost in the asylum and are ambushed by an unseen attacker.
In the recording of Mary's ninth and final session, "Simon" finally speaks. He reveals that when Mary was a child, her brother startled her while she was playing with a china doll. She fell, shattering the doll and badly injuring herself. "Simon" convinced Mary to murder her brother in retaliation. She then murdered the rest of her family. As the recording continues, Phil finds Gordon in one of the patient rooms, staring in horror at photos of Gordon's family hanging on the wall.
As Hank's replacement, Craig, arrives at the asylum, Gordon finds Hank in one of the larger rooms. Gordon tries to converse with Hank, but Phil shows him that the orbitoclast is protruding from Hank's eye; Hank is incapacitated.
A flashback reveals that Gordon murdered his wife, daughter and dog after a pot of boiling water spilled on him. After covering up the crimes, Gordon murdered all of his colleagues.
Gordon uses his broken cell phone to apologize tearfully to his wife. As the playback of the ninth session continues, the doctor asks, "And where do you live, Simon?" "Simon" replies, "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.
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 62% approval rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on sixty-five 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 [Nicholas] 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, Ellen Datlow contends that Simon is not necessarily an alternate personality of the former patient Mary, but rather a malignant genius loci. She also points out that the deleted scenes included on the DVD help fill out the narrative.
- Peter Mullan as Gordon Fleming
- David Caruso as Phil Cronenburg
- Stephen Gevedon as Mike King
- Josh Lucas as Hank Romero
- Brendan Sexton III as Jeff Fleming
- Jurian Hughes as Mary Hobbes (voice)
- Larry Fessenden as Craig McManus
- Paul Guilfoyle as Bill Griggs
- Charley Broderick as Security Guard
|Soundtrack album by Climax Golden Twins|
|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 songs written and composed 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 (DVD). Anderson, Brad. Universal Pictures Home Video. 2001.
- 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.
- Carruthers, Sean. "Session 9 – Original Soundtrack : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2012.