Directed by Brad Anderson
Starring David Caruso Josh Lucas Paul Guilfoyle Peter Mullan Stephen Gevedon
One of the best horror films of 2001, "Session 9" recreates much of the fear and paranoia that was exhibited in 1999's "Blair Witch Project." Even though it isn't a mockumentary, it nevertheless shares many similarities with that blockbuster. Shot on video - not film - it somehow feels a little like a documentary.
With a low budget, no real special effects and just seven men in the cast, "Session 9" relies strictly on psychological horror to make its point. Peter Mullan plays the head of a troubled asbestos treatment company that wins a contract to clean up an abandoned insane asylum.
He brings together a team to work on the asylum - a truly terrifying structure that actually exists. The Danvers Mental Hospital outside Boston was used as the location, and someone should definitely keep the hospital around if simply for use in future horror films.
Despite the fact that the movie was shot on video (or maybe even because of it) the cinematography is eerie and terrifying, capturing the sprawling, forbidding atmosphere of this amazing structure. As Gordon and his co-workers begin spending a week working on the building, their minds start unraveling. Matters aren't helped by the fact that his second-in command (Caruso) once had his girlfriend stolen by another member of the crew.
Like "The Blair Witch Project," it isn't clear at first what evil is at work in the abandoned asylum. Only that something very evil is there. When one of the crew workers uncovers recordings of sessions involving a committed murderer, and begins listening to them, sessions 1-9, you get the idea that the place may be haunted.
The only weakness of "Session 9" may be its ending. Unlike "Blair Witch," which never really explained what forces were at work in the woods, "Session 9" eventually explains too much. But it doesn't diminish the fact that at the time of its release, "Session 9" was easily the best horror film to hit big screens since "Witch." It also benefited from the fact that there are no teens in the movie - and no women. The film is rugged and realistic - and horrifying.
Again, there is no gore and no real special effects in this film - which is all the more reason to see it. A fantastic movie, but not a perfect one, "Session 9" is a fine example of a new breed of horror movie hitting screens in the 21st century.
-- Review by Lucius Gore
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