Whatever the genre, everyone has personal favorite movies that they hold dear. Sometimes they are cult classics, sometimes studio classics, sometimes blockbusters. And sometimes they are smaller films that many people have not even heard of. One of my personal faves is finally hitting Blu-ray this month thanks to, of course, Shout Factory. It is called Session 9. And if you haven’t heard of it you are not alone.
Gordon (Peter Mullan) is having a rough time in his life. He is having some emotional trouble at home concerning his wife and new baby and money is tight. So when he puts in a low-ball offer for his crew to remove asbestos from an abandoned psychiatric hospital, it will be a tough job but could turn things around. But as soon as Gordon and his team including Mike (Stephen Gevedon), Phil (David Caruso), Hank (Josh Lucas) and Jeff (Brendan Sexton III) arrive at the enormous building they find themselves mysteriously under its influence. Gordon starts hearing voices, Hank is drawn to hidden treasure within the hospital walls, and Mike becomes obsessed with a series of therapy recordings of a former patient named Mary Hobbs. But is it just the atmosphere of the old building and its sordid history or is there something evil at work?
Session 9 was directed by Brad Anderson who also co-wrote the film with Stephen Gevedon. They wrote the movie after driving by the real life location of The Danvers State Hospital in rural Massachusetts for years. In the early 2000’s horror was taking a turn for the tamer and Anderson wanted to make an old-fashioned psychological horror movie for adults. Once in the old hospital ruins they discovered they wouldn’t even have to do any production design and aside from a couple of small detail additions the hospital in the film is exactly the way they found it. Which is to say damn scary. The cast are all fantastic character actors who deliver spectacularly subtle and powerful performances, especially the spectacular Peter Mullan, Anderson’s script and direction are methodical, heavy on the dread and perfectly paced and the story is not spoon fed, intriguing and unsettling. As is the music and sound design, something that this new Blu-ray is really great for. Session 9 is a classic creeper, a slow burn disturbing thriller that will leave you with the heebie jeebies for a long time afterwards. Highly recommended.
The Blu-ray also features a fascinating new documentary on the making of the film, a new episode of Horror’s Hallowed Grounds as well as an audio commentary, deleted scenes and more. Fans rejoice, everyone else discover the greatness of Session 9.