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Brian De Palma
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An asbestos abatement crew wins the bid for an abandoned insane asylum. What should be a straightforward, if rather rushed, job, is complicated by the personal histories of the crew. In particular, Hank is dating Phil's old girlfriend, and Gordon's new baby seems to be unnerving him more than should be expected. Things get more complicated as would-be lawyer Mike plays the tapes from a former patient with multiple personalities, including the mysterious Simon who does not appear until Session 9, and as Hank disappears after finding some old coins. Written by
Jon Reeves <email@example.com>
Only 3 rooms had additions outside of the natural setting for atmosphere, the kitchen had meat hooks hung, the tunnel had plastic surgical gloves hung up, and the hydrotherapy room had a metal tub added. Almost everything else related to the asylum setting was found on site as the crew scoured the building for set dressing to keep things authentic. See more »
A CVS brand baby wipe container is in clear view when we are introduced to Carusso and Mullen in the van. A few moments later the baby wipes container is turned sideways. See more »
Gordy? You look tired, man. You look beat. Your turn to feed Emma?
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Seeing a film like Session 9 just reaffirms that there are truly great films still being made.
While many (including the filmmakers) will find comparisons to Don't Look Now, The Shining, and even a nod to The Changeling, Session 9 still stands on its own as a most effective, brooding experience of dread -- and that's a good thing! I found the style and tension more genuine than the grandiose The Shining, and Session 9 relies mostly on real fears and no gratuitous material to entertain. This film wants to creep you out and that's its soul purpose. No pretty young GAP models, no trendy MTV-influenced rap/metal soundtrack, no breasts, no giggle-inducing decapitation effects. If you want those, by all means go watch something else as there are plenty other films that offer that to those with short attention spans. If you want to be drawn INTO a film, a place of fear, and THINK as well, Session 9 is like a therapy session of nightmares.
The story is simple and complex at the same time, as workers removing asbestos from the massive Danvers Mental Hospital slowly unravel along with secrets from taped audio recordings of a former patient. I never saw the characters' backgrounds as "underdeveloped" as some have complained -- you don't need to know EVERYTHING about these guys and besides, more information about them would have slowed the film down even more, and its nice, brooding pace is just right as it is. And don't worry if some of the things that seem like "clues" are left unresolved, that's part of the fun. Just like I still say many of the weird "clues" in David Lynch's works like Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive are just there to be weird and draw you in, not that they actually have any direct connection to the main story.
The actual Danvers Hospital is an amazing setting as the whole structure is a character all it's own and will disturb you without it having to do much but just BE there in the film. The minimalistic soundtrack is unsettling and downright perfect (I even bought it on CD and am still trying to figure out why it attracts me so much, playing it in the background while, say, typing away something like this....).
Each actor does a fine job -- yes, even David Caruso (some of you need to get off his back!) as a guy who seems to get a bit impatient yet maintaining a sense of calm. Peter Mullan, Steven Gevedon, Josh Lucas, and Brendan Sexton III seem like real, regular blue collar guys. It's refreshing to see a film not insecure in having a mature, rough-edged cast. By giving you a sense that these guys are real (yes, even though they tend to be slacking off quite a bit in places when they're supposed to get the job done in a week), the quiet dread of the story will draw you in and you'll be absorbed completely. Of course, if you appreciate less flashy films like this, you'll agree it's damn near perfect. Oh, to those here on IMDb who criticized the scene with a jar of peanut butter left on the floor, welllll, think about this: considering the state of its consumer, do you think that whoever left it there cared where the container was disposed? Man, do you people get picky over the strangest things! Whatever may seem implausible in the story or the characters' actions really doesn't wreck the film, as it is to be appreciated much for its atmosphere and story. I didn't find the ending to be so hard to understand at all, those that had their mind set that they didn't like this film were too busy being angry to just sit back and let everything present itself quite clearly.
If this film is categorized as horror then it's one of the best I've ever seen, definitely one of the best in years. It takes a LOT to scare me, and there's one specific scene with Josh and his experience in the basement that caused a wave of tingling goosebumps all over my body. It was exhilarating to be scared that effectively by a single scene!
Folks, you can't trash this film because it doesn't give you easy explanations or allows you to have some cheap voyeuristic thrills. Many of you who didn't like Session 9 seemed to know from reading its summary that it wasn't offering slam-bang entertainment. If you like your mind to be stimulated and love being absorbed in mysterious and wondrous storytelling, Session 9 is by my definition a flawless piece of work. For anyone else, I'd just say........."What are YOU doing here....?"
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