Session 9 (2001) [Blu-Ray]

Session9Brad Anderson’s supernatural thriller is perhaps one of the most criminally overlooked genre entries of the early aughts. In a time where most audiences are embracing cinema about the supernatural, “Session 9” deserves another look and so much more praise than ever. Director Anderson doesn’t opt for cheap jump scares and shocks, so much as he does a slow boil and uneasy thriller that culminates in a rather disturbing explosion. Upon first viewing “Session 9” it’s safe to say the climax threw me for a loop and kept me thinking about it for days. “Session 9” feels so much like a real life dramatization of actual events, thanks to director Anderson’s digital photography and tendency to film in one setting for the duration of “Session 9.”

Anderson puts the single setting of his supernatural thriller to great use, opting for a very claustrophobic aesthetic that also feels like an almost never ending nightmare. Very well cast, “Session 9” is centered on a group of asbestos workers led by Gordon Fleming. Gordon is a new father and is experiencing rising tensions with his wife. Anxious to break free from financial debt, Gordon is now reliant on cleaning the now abandoned Danvers State Hospital within one week, hoping to claim the high pay. Along the way, he and his co-workers begin experiencing various anomalies, including signs of activity within certain rooms. Character Mike also finds a slew of tapes from an infamous series of psychological sessions involving a young woman with multiple personality disorder.

Gordon’s nephew, meanwhile, is suffering from crippling nyctophobia, and fears the dark corners of the hospital. There’s also rumors of a treasure within the bowels of the hospital that worker Hank is intent on finding. Along the way, as some of the workers begin disappearing, and the hospital seemingly begins to toy with the characters, director Anderson unravels a very eerie supernatural mystery that’s delightfully ambiguous. Much of what we view on screen is left for mostly off camera allowing for Anderson to deliver one hell of a blow to the gut that will resonate with audiences that appreciate surprise twists and emotional trauma. “Session 9” is a very humble, unassuming, horror thriller with some wonderful turns by Peter Mullen, and David Caruso that works with mood, biting tension, and build up.

It is just a fantastic entry in a genre where most directors have a tough time concocting new scares for their audience. It’s one of Brad Anderson’s many little talked about genre gems. The Blu-Ray release from Scream Factory comes packed with an audio commentary by writer and director Brad Anderson and co-writer/star Stephen Gevedon, both of whom provide a great commentary with insight on filming, production, and all aspects of making the movie. It’s a fun listen for fans. “Return to Danvers: The secrets of ‘Session 9’” is a wonderful and detailed forty eight minute series of interviews with the cast and crew. We get all looks at the formation of the story, scripting, the locations where the film was shot, and it’s such a neat look at filming what is a very creepy movie under creepy circumstances and conditions.

Sean Clark returns yet again with “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” an excellent twenty minute feature for fans that want to see what the old Danvers Insane Asylum looks like. You might be interested to know that the old hospital is now luxury apartments. There’s a nine minute series of deleted scenes covering a deleted sub-plot. “Story to Screen” is a ten minute look behind the scenes of shooting the film and how they measured up to the storyboards. “The Haunted Palace” is a twelve minute vintage bonus feature that looks at the history of Danvers State Hospital and its location. Finally, there’s a Standard Definition original trailer for “Session 9.”