What was Session 9 supposed to be?
The tag line says, "Fear is a place". Its not there.
Remember this movie? No? That's OK, even the cult following doesn't even know why this meant something.
Session 9 was released in 2001 , directed by Brad Anderson.
As I did some reasearch on this movie I saw that there is a cult following but, I hardly see any references to this movie saying how it utilized an idea or bad it was, but enjoyable. This film was barely promoted and was doomed to be a sleeper hit, except it wasn't even that.
Casting choices were a bit weird as well. I'm not saying these weren't successful actors, but a lot of them had minimal success before. Just recognized for one role in certain movies or known for TV, and then nothing else even after this movie. It was about as unmemorable to even know the actor names to tie into remembering the characters name. The only one that people remember from this movie is David Caruso for one line to be parodied to death. (Look up "Session 9 Fuck You" and you'll see what I'm talking about)
Now I'll go onto review this crazy movie that wasn't even that crazy.
It's about a clean up crew tasked to clean up an abandoned asylum. Already sounds like an interesting plot to take place for the premise. But the sad part is that it's not explored to potential eerie ambiance. When the film ventures in, you get to know the history of the building but there is little talk about the patients. Only to know that they are trying to come back, but that's never seen so automatically that plot point fails to bring the tension. The only good thing about the opening is the ironic casting that David Caruso and Paul Guilfoyle are in the same scene for a funny CSI crossover. It’s amusing only to CSI fans.
Before I go on I have to talk about that real quick is David Caruso's casting, I love the man since I was a major fan of CSI: Miami but unfortunately that's all I see and what anyone else would see. The very next year in 2002 he would go onto playing Horatio Caine. But with his performances being serious for drama, it’s best served in crime shows, not horror movies. Trying out the horror genre was a unusual move for him to do but sadly it didn't pay off.
The clean up crew is tasked to clean up the whole asylum in two weeks. The place looks like Hogwarts, and five people have to clean it up. That plot is weirder then the actual premise.
The horror starts out to be centered around the plot point of the death of a patient named Mary, I will give it this much that the performance of the asylum patient was intriguing. The fact that we only hear what her 3 alters in the recording sessions from her doctor on figuring out the alters and what pushed her to kill her family. Which alter was the one the sinister alter that made pushed her psyche too far? All of them were great. I like that we only hear the unique and individual voices and how these alters were presented without having to see her. It was left open to the imagination . Now I have to mention that nothing was else was expanded on that . One of the crew members takes interest after hearing the story and listens to the tapes but he doesn’t really make a good thorough investigation. The movie would have been much better if there was more about Mary. I’ll elaborate on the contrast after the plot review .
As the clean up crew has been progressing in the asylum there’s not much, It’s pretty slow. You do get some of the history between the characters but it’s not really essential to remember. The fact that Hank and Phil have problems with each other, It’s sort of cheap that they have to go for the “stole my girlfriend” plot point to make some stale tension.
It takes almost an hour into the movie until you actually see something eerie. It’s a shadow that looks like a Photoshop smear. Then there's a cut away, knowing that whatever this was got a hold of Hank. Which was anti-climatic and dull that this was the first "scare" of the film. There were other possibilities for that moment. There could have been the patients returning or it could have been the titular character Mary in the case study with D.I.D. Nope, just a shadow that chased him and everything went dark.
Now with the one hour mark all you see is the character Gordon in a car and it’s clearly known that he did something to his family that parallels what happened with the asylum case. It’s practically gift wrapped how predictable it was.
Then you get more measly tough guy talk. One of the characters claims to have seen Hank. Which isn’t really executed very well as a character returns, and nothing looks off about him despite Jeff’s anxiousness. I have to point out that there was a weird addition, that he was listening to Jazz music on his walkman. Was Hank allowed to have that? Are ghosts allowed to have items? Since Hank is dead why is that added to the illusion? It's very unclear what the heck happened with Hank's character and how they made him a ghost or if he is an illusion? Why is he an illusion to just Jeff?
Jeff tells the guys that Hank is back, Everyone argues and David Caruso gives a performance straight out of a Nicolas Cage movie.
They go looking for Hank, Then it goes back-and-forth about Gordon and Phil with the tension that wasn’t even there and you don’t even know if something sinister came over them with the insane asylum sort of alluding if one of them is going to be villain.
After the bland climax, Gordon does this dash to Jeff like it's straight out of the ending to The Evil Dead.
Then we are back to Gordon, once again sitting in his car. The movie should have been called Sitting 9 and not Session 9.
Phil calls Gordon, makes him come to the asylum to say he found Hank dead. Phil doesn't really say it and all he keeps saying is Gordon has to wake up. It's a weird hint because nothing makes sense in the direction.
Then Hank is alive.
Then weird yelling between Phil and Gordon once again.
Finally, It's revealed from what has already been predicted that Gordon killed everyone then he kills the new recruit. So he had been talking to Phil in his mind and thought Hank was alive through hallucinations. Oddly enough as this movie goes, weird 80s music plays as Gordon kills the new recruit. Then Simon's voice is heard which was mentioned that it's one of Mary's alters, which is interesting but there wasn't enough mentions for this to come off as a shock.
So Gordon killed everyone the whole time, his co-workers, his family, everyone. Basically this movie became like the sequel to Blair Witch with a weak plot twist ending.
So now "Simon" is in Gordon's head now.
Simon says through Gordon, "I live through the weak and wounded"
That was like the blandest version of "why she wouldn't even hurt a fly".
And that’s session 9. You didn’t miss much.
It's sort of an odd one that is technically categorized as a horror movie but reverts to a psychological thriller that was trying to be a horror film (Yet Netflix calls it a Mind Game Movie)
What's sad is that there was opportunity to explore some of these characters. Have them interact with each other more for tension then tough guy shit characters that they are. They were so bland they could have blended in with the wall and no one would have noticed.
They were placed in an asylum, which automatically makes it atmospherically intriguing, yet it wasn't used to the potential and neither were the characters.
To compare and contrast, I'm just gonna throw this out here as a reference, Event Horizon did the same thing. Something unusual was out there and slowly wormed it's way into the crew members, just like in this movie. And just like in Event Horizon, Sam Neill's character became a villain out of nowhere. No buildup, no nothing. That's what happened with the character Gordon, then it goes to Phil. Then Gordon, then back to Phil. Was there even supposed to be a villain or a deranged character? I waited the entire film to know exactly who it was going to be, but it was such a let down to get there.
I'm sitting and waiting for the monstrosity to happen. Even at the hour mark, nothing happened to excel the story. All I've seen for an hour is guys talking smack, a limited cliche backstory on Gordon, minimal character development and sitting in cars. Only one story about the controversy at the asylum. Nothing? No other cases? Just one patient to focus on out of the whole slew of patients we never got to know about in a huge asylum? Again I say, you never get to see these patients that have been trying to get back inside? Probably knew these guys were there and opted not to.
Another movie that I want to compare and contrast to is the movie Ghost Ship which isn’t really a good movie but, at least tried with the premise. That it actually explored the idea of a haunted ship. There was more than one ghost and there were plenty of stories and finished back stories even if they weren't great. The scares weren't great but at least it did something to the demise of the characters. With Session 9, even though it just takes place entirely in the insane asylum they could have branched off into learning more about the history in a library. Yes, they do go to a bar or at home, but there could have been an expansion on their home lives that could tie in to the terror that sent them into insanity. Could it have been for all of them were controlled by "Simon" and not just Gordon. I would have enjoyed a lot more then the complicated, lost plot.
With insane asylum movies there’s so much potential to explore something. Was it demons, was it the patients, was it a curse? What was the threat? What happened ? We'll never know.
It was a weird movie with a lack of crazy that could have made the movie just a little bit better.