Halloween Film Review – Session 9 (2001)

Title – Session 9 (2001)

Director – Brad Anderson (The Machinist)

Cast – Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Josh Lucas, Stephen Gevedon, Brendan Sexton III

Plot – Given the unenviable task of removing asbestos from a long-abandoned asylum for the criminally and mentally insane, a group of workers lead by their bosses Gordon (Mullan) and Phil (Caruso) begin to find themselves unhinged by their working environment.

“Here we are with the keys to the loony bin boys!”

Review by Eddie on 29/10/2020

A little seen but well-appreciated low budget horror offering, Session 9 remains one of director Brad Anderson’s most accessible films, one that manages to create sufficient unease and tension from a familiar set-up that plays out in memorable moments.

A frustrating director whose well known for helming some of the best episodes of iconic TV series such as The Wire and Breaking Bad, Anderson has had a turbulent career as a feature director with the likes of this and Christian Bale classic The Machinist showcasing an undeniable talent but efforts like Fractured, The Call and Vanishing on 7th Street efforts that suggest quality control isn’t always one of Anderson’s strong suits.

Filmed with minimal funds at the perfect surrounds of the Danvers Mental Hospital (a more creepy setting you’d be hard pressed to find), Session 9 follows a group of Asbesto’s removal workers who against the tight turnaround on the job at the hospital and their surrounds begin to loose grip on reality that seems to be infected by the darkness that lives within the walls of the long abandoned facility.

Staying clear of jump scares and generic frights, Anderson does a great job at allowing his characters room to breath and Session 9 never appears to be in any great rush to ramp up its proceedings but it never ceases to engage as we discover more about the history of the hospital, the men who find themselves working within its walls and the patients that once inhabited the premises due to various troubles and torments.

It’s not just the hospital or its long gone patients that face torment in Anderson’s tale though as business partners and long time friends Gordon and Phil appear to be battling their own personal demons as they go about their work and C.S.I heavyweight David Caruso and renowned character actor Peter Mullan are great in their respective roles that keep you guessing throughout when questions of sanity and mental state begin to be asked.

It’s all very small-scale, the film remains confined for the most part to tiny rooms and foreboding hallways and its happy to focus on dialogue or empty corridors to create its uneasy vibe but it all goes hand in hand to eventually combine to establish one of the better low budget horror offerings of the early 2000’s and a sufficiently spooky genre entry in general.

Final Say – 

One of Brad Anderson’s best feature film efforts, Session 9 is a small film with some big tension and a horror film genre fans would do well to seek out.

4 boxes of Oreo’s out of 5  

6 responses to “Halloween Film Review – Session 9 (2001)

  1. This was such a great and honestly seriously underrated movie. It’s one that has always stuck with me since I’ve first seen it. Great post, and cool to see it get some attention!😀

    • One I’ve always really enjoyed mate. The Machinist is one of my favourite films too actually. A shame Anderson has lost his way of recent times.
      E

  2. Movies like Session 9 get under the skin with its unsettling atmosphere that outlast the in-your-face visceral horror (anticipated jump-scare or not). I’ve only been able to watch this movie once, but I do enjoy reading other people’s first times with it.

    • It’s a real nice slow burn, something to me akin to Hereditary or Midsommar, just not as outlandish!
      Always been a big fan of the ending to.
      E

  3. I’ve heard of this film before, namely through that clip of David Caruso going “Hey, fuck you!” (which I’m surprised hasn’t turned into a meme). I’ve always dogged horror that relies on atmosphere for its scares, so I’ll definitely check this out.

    Speaking of Halloween reviews, I got two of them up on my blog for Re-Animator and Bliss. It be cool if you’d check them out.

    • This is a real low budget winner mate, more psychological than anything else, almost more thriller than horror.

      Cheers man will do, hope you had a great spooky season!
      E

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