Session 9 is not an amazing movie, the budget is low, it has no stars (unless you consider Josh Lucas and a pre-CSI Miami David Caruso stars), and yet it always manages to make its way into the conversation of “Best Horror Films of the 2000s”. It has a cult following, and although I don’t consider myself a member of that cult I do recognize and appreciate the storytelling of that cult. Session 9 turns a little into a lot, which is admirable when you consider how bloated this genre really is.
Session 9 follows an asbestos crew, including: Josh Lucas, David Caruso and Peter Mullan (who often steals the show) as they begin work restoring an abandoned insane asylum (filmed at a real insane asylum). They find a series of tapes from a former patient with multiple personalities, most notably the mysterious Simon who does not appear until Session 9. Soon enough, crew members disappear, we descend into the mysteries of a former patient, and characters begin to question their own sanity. It’s a slow burn with subtle scares that drip with a decrepitly spooky atmosphere.
Session 9 is directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Transsiberian) who despite his blurry wikipedia profile pic is worth talking about in the realm of indie filmmaking. Though he tends to gravitate towards the thriller genre, I wouldn’t define him by that. What I’ve enjoyed in Anderson films like The Machinist or the underrated Vanishing on 7th Street is his skill to develop relatable characters in fantastic situations without the story descending into melodrama. Spectacle never takes precedent over the characters in Anderson’s film (at least his good ones) which keeps the audience focused and intrigued. Character issues outside the story are just as much at the forefront as supernatural phenomena. How one character is dealing with a romantic relationship outside of work, or a new baby. It’s these attempts to breathe life into the characters that makes everything else that more significant.
It’s hard to talk about Session 9 without spoiling anything but it’s worth seeing. Sometimes we get more questions then answers which can make the story confusing but it’s an interesting story nonetheless. Once again, I have to applaud Peter Mullan’s performance, he really should get more significant roles. Plus it’s got Josh Lucas and he’s only kind of an asshole.
It’s shoot-yourself-in-the-head chic!