Session 9 – Limited Edition

In DVD/Blu-ray by Alex Moss Editor

Released waaaaay back in 2001, Brad Anderson’s Session 9 is one of those horror films that fans of the genre will often cite as ‘under-seen’. Indeed, it is a film that for the most part seems to have gone under the radar but those who know revel in its delicate sense of dread.

Desperate to land a big job a team of asbestos cleaners find themselves in an abandoned asylum with the ticking clock of having promised to clean the whole place in a week. As tension between the team rises, one of them discovers a set of recorded interviews with a woman whose case apparently shut-down the whole facility. Could there be more to the story than anyone knows?

Unlike most modern horrors, Session 9 is much more interested in character than it is scares or indeed horror. Anderson and Stephen Gevedon’s script takes its time, settling into a languid exposition of this not-so-merry band of men who are all harbouring a sense of resentment towards their lot in life. Those coming in search of Paranormal Activity jump-scares are going to be sorely disappointed. Those coming for a more meandering character psychological thriller will find plenty to digest.

As the film slowly rises to a boil – a metaphor Anderson is so keen to stress he frequently cuts to a literal boiling pot – the film fills you with a sense of unease. Much of this is thanks to the stunning location. Anderson has openly admitted he had the idea of where to set his film long before he had a script. Like The Overlook Hotel of Kubrick’s The Shining, the asylum is labyrinthian in its sprawling layout – tunnels, corridors, secluded cells and treatment rooms seem to stretch into the distance. It allows for a deeply immersive and often disorientating experience for both characters and audience. Even the exteriors with their overgrown, unweeded car parks feel oppressive.

As the film gradually rises to its grand reveal Anderson chooses not to dial-things up. Instead the narrative becomes smartly inward looking. Examining the key characters and how they each represent something hidden in the former inmates nature, be it grief, anger, trauma or fear of the unknown.

This Limited Edition release from Second Sight has been lovingly put together. The film itself looks stunning and the extras are absolutely brimming with documentaries, commentaries and further exploration of the film.

Session 9 is a fascinating and anxiety fuelled film that dares to be that rare thing in horror, introverted rather than in your face. Nail-biting rather than nerve shredding it feels like a mature horror that warrants repeat viewing.