Sunday, June 19, 2011

#317. Session 9 (2001)


Directed By: Brad Anderson

Starring: Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon




Tag line: "Fear Is A Place."

Trivia:  The movie is mentioned in the book Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz







Psychological Horror is (in my opinion, anyway) among the most frustrating of film sub-genres. Whereas most horror movies provide, at the very least, a definable external threat, psychological horror turns the attention inward, focusing on terrors of the mind, which, when left unchecked, can (and often do) transform into more tangible dangers. Yet you can never trust what psychological horror throws your way; is it real, or merely a figment of a character's imagination? The human mind is complex, and this complexity extends, as well, to films dealing with its darker natures. Session 9 is, most definitely, a psychological horror movie, and while I did find quite a bit to like about the film, it ultimately proved no less puzzling than others of its ilk. 

The Danvers State Hospital, which has been closed for 15 years, must be cleared of asbestos and other hazardous materials before undergoing some much-needed renovations. Enter Gordon Fleming (Peter Mullan), the owner of Hazmat Elimination, who has promised to rid the entire facility of asbestos in one week's time. His partner, Phil (David Caruso), and their employees, Mike (Stephen Gavcdon), Hank (Josh Lucas) and Jeff (Brendan Sexton III), worry that a week isn't enough time, but the promise of a $10,000 bonus for completing the job on-schedule quickly changes their mind. As the work commences, Gordon begins acting more and more agitated, as if the building's history were affecting him on a personal level. Things go from bad to worse when Mike stumbles upon several discarded audio tapes from the institution's past, which contain the therapy sessions of a disturbed young woman. Mike listens to the tapes in secret, yet they nonetheless seem to be affecting the morale of his co-workers, who are ready to jump down each others throats at the slightest provocation. 

As I stated above, there's plenty to like about Session 9, starting with the mental institution that serves as the film's setting. Shot on-location at the abandoned Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts (a building that, at one point in its long history, was called The Danvers Lunatic Asylum), Session 9 takes full advantage of the structure's dilapidated state, bringing an eerie atmosphere to every scene set within its walls. Along with the effective setting, the performances in Session 9 are top-notch, especially that of Peter Mullan, whose distanced demeanor as Gordon masks a dark secret his character can't keep hidden for very long. But the best moments in Session 9 center around the audio tapes, recorded therapy sessions of a young woman who suffered from multiple personality disorder. At the start of each recording, the woman, named Mary Hobbes (voiced by Jurian Hughes), can be heard weeping, and avoids the questions put to her by the doctors. Then, quite suddenly, a different voice is heard on the tape, sometimes that of a child, other times a young man, yet all emanating from Mary Hobbes. These sessions are truly disturbing, and leave us to wonder, as they're sending shivers up our collective spines, how they connect to the story at hand. 

Herein lies my main issue with Session 9: its climax is a bit of a let-down. As is the case with many psychological horror films, too much time is dedicated to “muddying the mental waters” in order to confuse the audience, then too little in clearing them up again. Not wanting to spoil the movie for anyone, I'll just say I found the ending far too simplistic, especially when you consider all that went before it. 

Yet I still say there's a lot to like about Session 9. It's a slow burn, and takes a while to get rolling, but the combination of characters and setting proves enough to keep your attention through the slower periods, and even if you're as disappointed by the finale as I was, the journey getting there is entertaining enough, and makes the entire trip worthwhile.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

It figures it was that idiot Greg Mortis that blew the whole thing up.

I could of told you that well before the switchover.

I wish you would of come out and said his name, it's people like him that give horror a bad name, dedicated my ass his motto.

I am in awe of 8 regulars at the Jungle, love the name and tag line.

I added the website to my favorite websites and will check back frequently until I can subscribe.

Sternhourse

Anonymous said...

HORROR JUNGLE LOOKS RAD DOCTOR SHOCK. AMAZING JOB YOU GUYS MUST OF BEEN BUSY OVER THE PAST WEEK. I CANT BELIEVE ITS COMPLETE AND READY TO GO. I CAN TELL YOU I AM "GLAD" AS ALL COULD BE THAT EPIC PLUMMETED. I WAS NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO THOSE CREEPURE HOSTS.

Anonymous said...

DrShock,

Great news! I am happy and excited about this new direction.

I am not sure who has the connection with Midnight Corey but there are going to be some fireworks with him and BillChete, it will be a fun ride. Awesome pick---up.

Great decision DrShock, since a new day release will your horror reviews continue the same.

F.Lancent

Anonymous said...

all-i-can-say-is-WOW

cant-wait-to-hear-the-new-hosts-voices-see-where-they-land-in-horror

the-best-thing-is-that-flip-flopping-boy-is-out

travis-a-barnes

Anonymous said...

Absolutely love the new podcast web site and concept. Congratulations on that.

I would have to differ from you Dr. on pyscho/horror I find it the best subgenre. Scary because you never know where the macabre (you like that) is coming from.

I do see some new hosts focusing on this subgenre/I like that.

Anonymous said...

This is bigger than monumental Planet Macabre hosts. This is outstanding. I am a huge proponent of the special episode you ran and now we get this every episode. More hosts means a more accurate average of movie ratings and more diversity. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

omfg+no+gregamortis+i+am+hurt+SIKE+good+riddance+to+that+azz+licking+flake+-+you+guys+have+stunned+me+this+is+going+to+be+awesome+wasnt+expectin+that+news+-+jeffrey

Dave Becker said...

Hello to everyone, and thanks for the comments. Forgive my taking a while to reply...it's been one of those kind of mornings!

@Sternhourse: We're all very excited about Jungle Horror as well. Billchete's done some excellent work o9n the site, and the first episode will be released one week from today! Thanks for hanging in there with us furing this transition!

@Anonymous: There sure has been a lot going on this last week! Glad to hear you're excited about Horror Jungle.

@F.Lancent: Midnight Corey was actually brought on board by Billchete, and yes, it should prove for some very interesting discussions! As for the horror reviews, I'll be keeping them on the same schedule (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday). Thanks for the kind words, and for listening!

@travis-a-barnes: "WOW" just about sums up my feelings as well, and I'm with you...I can't wait!

@Anonymous: I can understand your position, and your definitely not alone (as you said, there'll be more coverage of psychological horror on Horror Jungle).

I may have been a bit hasty in condemning the entire sub-genre in my review: I wrote that within minutes of finishing up SESSION 9, so it was fresh in my mind. I've seen some Psychological horror films that I've absolutely enjoyed, but unfortunately, for me, they're more hit and miss than other sub-genres.

And yes...the concept of Horror Jungle is certainly going to be one of it's strengths, and I thank you for the congratulations.

@Anonymous: Thanks for the kind words, and you make a good point. Now, every show on Horror Jungle will be like a bonus episode!

@Jeffrey: Thanks for the comment, and I'm happy you're pleased with the announcement. It's gonna be fun!

Again, thanks to everyone for stopping by, and for listening. We certainly appreciate the support.

Anonymous said...

This was a nice wake up treat with my coffee this morning.

The new website looks stunning and I had fun reading all the profiles of the new hosts.

I am ecstatic that 3 out 4 of my favorite horror hosts are traveling into the jungle. I will miss Lady Phantom, maybe a guest sometimes?

Thank you Doctor Shock for continuing on in the horror endeavor I would of sorely missed all of you.

Stacie

Dave Becker said...

@Stacie: Glad we could make your coffee time more enjoyable! And thanks so much for the kind words.

Billchete did an excellent job putting the website together, and the host profiles (among other sections) are very impressive. It's gonna be fun!

So glad to be one of your favorite hosts, and to continue bringing you a quality podcast. Have a good day, and thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shocker you put a Shocker on us. A great Shocker. I was cringing when I heard Gregumortis was hosting at Epic tunred my stomach to no end. This is without a doubt great news.

Question, in your response on these commendts you said first episode in one week but on the episode & website it says Tuesday?

A fan, we love you.

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for the comment!

First off, you're absolutely right, and I thank you for pointing out my mistake. I misspoke when I said the show was one week from today (guess I also have to get used to the new Tuesday schedule!). The 1st episode will post Tuesday, June 28th (one week from this Tuesday).

As for the show itself, we certainly appreciate your kind words, and we thank you for hanging in there during the tumultuous last few weeks! At least it all worked out in the end!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the clarification, I am with you wherever you 3 gentlemen go, I love you!

Anonymous said...

Horror Jungle sounds and looks excellent. I will be there.
Won Phi

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for the comments!

@Anonymous: Thanks again for the kind words. And know we love our fans as much as they love us!

@Won Phi: Thanks! Glad to have you aboard!

Anonymous said...

Another surprise episode again Doctor + crew mates.Thank jesus i did't unsub. after 14. I wouldve never known. This knew show sounds unparalelled in horror. I like the forms added to the knew sight. I hated emaling in good feature set looks clean. No Mortis = TYVM that downhome style got annoying. 8 critics = COOL Im waiting on #1.....

Anonymous said...

i am pleased too the ends of the horror earth with this announcement. i could never see myself listening to the cfhs host and co hosts. they are simply terrible. i never understood you being there doc even though you hardly were. i would bet a 100 dollars you didn't like going over there, come on spill the beans, wasn't that really the case doc? horror jungle sounds larger than life with all the hosts and i won't miss a single episode. glad i am getting in at launch. with pm i found it at episode 7, so this is sweet, maybe i can be the first downloader on tues 28! cam dreckler

Anonymous said...

I love the round horror images denoting the hosts on HorrorJungle. Nice site, plenty of hosts, curious on the new "format"

This ought to be one damn fine horror podcast. Bookmarked and have it on my desktop so I don't forget about it!

Waiting on more classix Dr. I am so glad they are continuing!

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for stopping by!

@Anonymous: Yes, we're very glad you didn't unsubscribe, though we do accept the fact that a good many probably did. Still, we're hoping they learn, one way or another, about the new show, and come back! Thanks for the kind words, and for hanging in there through all the recent uncertainty.

@dreckler: We're very glad you're pleased, and we certainly share your enthusiasm! As for gregamortis and the Creepture show, I did appreciate the chance to be a part of it (after all, I'm very new to Podcasting and needed all the experience I could get). That said, I'm very pleased that things worked out as they did, and to have a chance to be part of something like Horror Jungle. With everything that's transpired in the past few weeks, it really is a dream come true! Good luck with your attempt to be the 1st download! I hope you can pull it off, and thanks again for all the support.

@Anonymous: I agree: the images (in fact, the entire Horror Jungle website) look fantastic, and we're positive the show will match it in quality. And yes, I;m very glad to be continuing my Chills of Yesteryear segment...I would have surely missed it!

Thanks again to everyone for the wonderful support, and for hanging in there. We all appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dr. I am wondering if your new music theme will be Guns n Roses Welcome to the Jungle. lol. I liked the outgoing song nice and smooth and I already flew off into the jungle. lol. Can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Horror Jungle looks real nice and exciting doctor, I will subscribe as soon as that option is available.

I actually liked Session 9 and movies live this another that comes to mind is Jacob's Ladder.

Will be changing horror movie release dates since the podcast goes out on Tuesday?

Pudgy Cubby

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for stopping by!

@Anonymous: That music would sure work, wouldn't it? :) Thanks for listening, and we're all as excited about Horror Jungle as you are!

@Pudgy Cubby: Thanks for the kind words. I haven't seen JACOB'S LADDER yet, but you're not the first one to recommend it to me, so I may have to catch it soon.

And I won't be changing my horror schedule on the blog. There will be a new horror film out every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The only change I will be making is moving my Chills of Yesteryear pick to the Tuesday the show releases, as opposed to Sunday.

Thanks again for stopping by, and for listening!

Anonymous said...

SAWEET podcast idea and good riddence to that backwoods greg "change my mind" amortis best news yet 6-28 im there

Anonymous said...

#317 almost a yr. in Sir Doc.

I am at work but I had to let you know I just listened to the final episode on PM and I am stoked.

This is incredible + I liked HH's line "No slackers" An apparent shot at a former host who dropped the ball I bet.

Well I have to get off be4 my boss comes in.

Way to go, I emailed myself HJ link so I can read the whole site and find out about the new hosts.

Dev Kramer

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for the comments.

@Anonymous: We're excited as well, and we can't wait to get started on the show! Thanks for hanging in there through the turmoil.

@Dev: Yeah, a year is closing in fast!

As for Horror Jungle, I think, when you check out the site, you'll be impressed with the nice mix of hosts (but yeah...wait until you get home to do it!).

Thanks again to both of you!