Session 9
David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon, Peter Mullan, Brendan Sexton III
Directed By:
Brad Anderson

Session 9 is one of those movies you may have never even heard of. It sits on the far-end of the fringe without intending to be fringe. The only reason I heard about it was from a slight reference to it that showed up in Silent Hill 3 that was pointed out to me by an online associate. Because of the dubious linking to this movie, I had to dig it up in a local DVD rental place for myself. The story behind Session 9 starts out quite simple and maybe even a bit obvious: Gordon (Peter Mullan) and his crew are hired on to remove asbestos from Danvers State Mental Hospital before the reconstruction of the decrepit series of buildings. Of course, the building has its stories and after discovering some of it's secrets, one of the crew goes missing. At this point, emotions boil over and the mental flaws of each member begins to crop up, leading to a bloody ending that's sure to catch some off guard.

Probably one of the finer aspects of the movie is the well-grounded script, which gives a strong sense of character through interaction. Everyone feels real and exhibits character flaws that don't reek of cliché. Gordon is a stressed family man whose continual harping on his lack of sleep due to the new baby tends to reveal that there's more to him than the movie is showing. David Caruso's Phil, the crew chief, is likewise hiding something - his marijuana addiction that he uses to alleviate the stress he gets from Hank (Lucas), the coworker who stole Phil's girlfriend. Both Hank and Jeff (Sexton) seem like simpler characters, but they are there to provide the catalyst for the overall conflict. One of the more important characters proves to be Mike (Gevedon) - a failed law student who becomes obsessed with the history of Danvers and especially with a series of audio tapes about a schizophrenic patient that killed her family.

Session 9 may be promoted as a horror title, but it really is more of a psychological thriller. Certain events do jump at you, but the overall sense of building dread is what helps define Session 9. Events may seem obvious as the all-too-human characters progress and evolve throughout the film, revealing a lot about them as the story flows, but once the **** hits the proverbial fan, all the clues dropped throughout get wrapped up in a whirlwind of disaster and madness that, while answering a lot of questions, will still leave the viewer to think about what had happened.

Direction by Brad Anderson is pretty well-done without being over-the-top. Anderson benefits from having a wonderfully grungy and dark set that still manages to have enough lighting and ambiance to carry the dark legacy generated by the story well. There is little in the way of effects and none of the horror is intended to be a shock. There manages to be mostly dark insinuations and the only real gore comes in the violent ending. Acting from the small cast is downright impressive as they all deliver realistic characters that feel dead on.

Session 9 is a great rental for those looking for a thriller, especially for one that no one seems to know much about. If you can find a copy of this title, give it a chance. The build-up and ending land well and can rattle you if you don't pay attention to the small clues the characters give you.

- - Vane

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