In 1983, financially struggling college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret, putting her life in mortal danger.
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>
Here's a concept: a genuinely creepy, effective horror film
Made on a low budget, this brilliant horror film succeeds because it doesn't fall back on any cheap gimmicks, like special effects or "shock" moments, but instead provides an eerie, forbidding atmosphere and genuine, three-dimensional characters. Writer-director Brad Anderson allows each of the characters to be an individual, to develop and play off each other, so we become genuinely interested in who these guys are, and then he allows the horror to grow out of their personalities and the world that they inhabit. This is a genuinely effective approach that recalls some of the more brilliant horror films of the past (The Shining, The Exorcist) before they were replaced by cheesy slasher movies and self-mocking teen horror flicks.
The plot in a nutshell: five men are hired to remove the asbestos from a condemned mental hospital (the movie was filmed on location at Danvers State Hospital, a place so disturbing that many of the actors reported hearing and seeing strange things during filming). As the week continues, they each begin to be affected by the place, and it's clear there's a presence of some kind there...
Each of the five main actors has a distinct style; Mullan is sullen and unsettled, Caruso is dark and intense, Sexton is hyperactive and talkative, Lucas is loud and cocky, and co-writer Gevedon is quiet and introspective. Their distinct styles allow these men to emerge as having very different personalities, and they play off each other wonderfully, with friendly banter at the beginning and as they argue and conflict with each other as the plot wears on and fear gradually sets in for each of them.
As far as the film's ending goes, let this much be said- Anderson deserves credit for willingness to follow his dark vision to the intense and unsettling end. It was probably necessary for this to be an independent film, because any major studio would have forced the filmmakers to abandon their brilliant style and add a contrived, Hollywood-style ending. Like the great horror films of yesteryear, Session 9 powerful, frightening, and most of all uncompromising.
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