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Brad Anderson appears to have fallen on harder times these days. After two successful romantic comedies in Next Stop Wonderland and Happy Accidents, he was able to independently make Session 9 which although was a flop at the box office, it was pretty well received critically and has become a bit of a cult movie since then. The Machinist was his next big project followed by Transsiberian. Anderson appears to have now settled down in shooting episodes for TV shows as well as directing mediocre horrors or thrillers like Vanishing on 7th Street and The Call.
There's nothing wrong with doing TV as he is doing work for some pretty respectable TV shows anyway. I'd just like to see some good movies out of him too like The Machinist and Session 9. Anderson was inspired to do S9 because of the Danvers State Mental Hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts which he passed by every day. One of the big reasons why Session 9 works as a horror movie is because not only is it just set in an asylum, it is set and filmed in the actual Danvers State Mental Hospital. Let me tell you, it's as creepy a place as they come.
The Danvers State Mental Hospital was closed in 1985 but is kept around due to historical reasons or such. Gordon Fleming (Peter Mullan) makes a bid for the removal of the asbestos in the place and absolutely needs the job or he risks losing his business and going bankrupt. He's got a wife and newborn to support, so he guarantees the work done in a week which in turn guarantees him a nice bonus. Despite the creepy atmosphere of the asylum, Gordon and his team are eager to finish the job and get the bonus.
Brad Anderson fleshes out his characters nicely instead of making them simple cardboard cutouts who get scared. There are conflicts between them but they aren't dumbly added to just make some drama. Each of them have their motivations and their problems which creates a nice web of goings on that has to be deciphered since nothing is cut-and-dried for you. I'm a fan of being challenged and while Session 9 isn't the most complex movie ever made, it's nice compared to regular horror schlock
Session 9 isn't even all that terrifying. So why do I like it? It's really up there in terms of the creepiness factor. There's such an atmosphere of creepiness that permeates just about every scene, even those outside of the asylum which are rare. Events mostly take place during the daytime which you'd think would make it easier to watch but it doesn't have that effect. Not at all. There's just something about the asylum that makes me really uncomfortable. You don't know what is waiting around a corner and Brad Anderson keeps you guessing until the end.
Session 9 isn't a found footage film but it almost feels like it is. It gets very close with its characters who seem to be very grounded in reality in terms of how they act and how they converse. I suppose it's hard to take David Caruso seriously now but this movie came out before CSI alright! Peter Mullan plays his role very convincingly although there is some unevenness from the rest of the cast.
This is a horror movie that keeps you trying to figure out what is going on and still leaves you with questions unanswered as the credits roll. I love it when that happens and although it is a little rough around the edges, Session 9 is worth seeing. It's not even that scary but it makes up for that with its infinitely creepy setting. I won't be setting foot in an asylum for some time, that's for sure.
Didn't like it. It doesn't really do much and leaves it up to the viewer to make something out of it from the (very) little information that was presented.
Problem was that I just didn't care about anything in the movie - the characters, the "mystery", nada.
Some creepy shots, sure, but there was no impact. Plenty of yawns throughout, wouldn't recommend.
If this was a student film it would probably get quite a high grade.
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #118 in A.V. Club's The New Cult Canon
This movie ranks #142 in TSZDT's The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films
This movie ranks #830 in TSPDT's 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films