Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Sound format: Dolby Digital
Five professional contractors are hired to strip asbestos from an abandoned asylum where they're haunted by the building's horrific legacy.
Notable as the first 2.39:1 movie shot in high-definition video - the same process used by George Lucas for STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES the following year - SESSION 9 is described by director Brad Anderson as an exercise in 'creeping dread', filmed at the deserted Danvers Mental Institution in Massachusetts, whose crumbling interior suggests nothing less than the hellish Marsten House of Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot'. Anderson favors long, deliberate camera movements and wide-angle shots which transform the Institute's vast empty spaces into an oppressive, tomb-like structure, using the widescreen format to impressive visual effect.
A terrific ensemble cast is headlined by David Caruso (TV's "CSI: Miami") and Scottish actor-director Peter Mullan (MY NAME IS JOE), both of whom give committed performances as men on the edge of despair, and strong support is given by Josh Lucas (THE DEEP END), Brendan Sexton III (WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE) and co-writer Steven Gevedon as the hapless co-worker who stumbles on a series of audio tapes which contain ultra-creepy psychiatric sessions involving a former patient suffering from split personality disorder. Memorable sequences include Lucas' unscheduled late-night visit to the Institute, where he finds himself sharing the darkness with... something that shouldn't be there; and the inevitable moment when Sexton - who had earlier declared his morbid fear of the dark - finds himself trapped in the bowels of the building just as the lights go out...
Two endings were filmed, one of which involves a subplot that was dropped from the final assembly, but in truth, neither one of them lives up to expectations. The combination of tragedy and horror will still take many viewers by surprise, but one is left with the distinct impression that few of the participants were interested in making a REAL horror film, even if the movie ends up being one anyway, in spite of itself. Beautifully judged for the most part, and genuinely frightening in places, SESSION 9 is worth a look, despite minor reservations.
- May 18, 2005