Review: SESSION 9 (R)

One of the many terrifying scenes in Session 9.

U.S. Release Date: August 10, 2001

Running Time: 102 minutes

MPAA Classification: R (Language, violence)

Cast: David Caruso, Peter Mullan, Stephen Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle, Josh Lucas, Brendan Sexton III, Larry Fessenden

Director: Brad Anderson

Producer: John Sloss, David Collins, Michael Williams, Dorothy Aufiero

Screenplay: Brad Anderson, Stephen Gevedon

 

By STEPHEN EARNEST / November 23, 2011

When it comes to twenty-first century horror, not many of them manage to scare quite as much as they should. They’re always the same thing over and over again, repeating the same mistakes that their predecessors did. Once in a blue moon, you’ll get a horror film that will get it right, and this time that horror film is Session 9.

It stars Scottish actor Peter Mullan as Gordon, a father who runs an asbestos cleaning company with close friend, Phil (David Caruso, from TV’s CSI: Miami). Gordon is desperate to keep his company running, so he takes the contract on an abandoned mental hospital and even offers to clean it out in a week’s time.

He uses his usual crew to help him out. The lack of time and hazardous surroundings don’t quite contribute to a peaceful environment, so the group of men don’t really get along as well as they should. As time progresses, they begin to learn what used to happen at the hospital. One of the men, Mike (Stephen Gevedon), uncovers a set of tapes that talk of brutal and primitive forms of punishment. In a particularly terrifying sequence, Hank imagines people walking around in the basement. And the more they begin to find out about the hospital, the more they begin to find out about each other.

Minus a shaky final act, Session 9 is a thoroughly effective horror story that uses its haunting atmosphere as the source for most of its scares. While it didn’t manage to flat-out scare me, it kept a pretty consistent creepy tone and I’ll admit that it did get under my skin from time to time. Plus, there’s a couple of jumpy parts for you Paranormal Activity fans.

Really, I was surprised by how very absorbed I was in this movie. It never quite takes off like it should, but it’s so utterly and hypnotically watchable that it’s near impossible to take your eyes off the screen. If you look away for a second, there’s a chance that you’ll miss something, and that something could be a definite game-changer.

The cast does a great job. These are not all “big name” actors. Peter Mullan is relatively famous, but not to the American crowd. He works as the lead here and really convinces for the most part. I mostly pleased with Josh Lucas, who did an excellent job. He supports the film quite nicely and had me quite convinced during that certain “basement” scene. Also, it was nice to see David Caruso in something other than CSI: Miami.

Overall, this seems to be an overlooked gem. You rarely find a well-made horror film, so its kind of an small achievement when you do.

RATING: 3/4

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