Title: Session 9
Genre: Psychological Horror/Thriller
Starring: Peter Mullan, David Caruso
A "haunted-house" themed film that manages to actually accomplish is what we encounter will set in "Danvers State Mental Hospital", the bat. A striving small business owner of a cleaning, asbestos removing company, "Gordon Fleming" (Mullan) promises to handle the hospital and get the job done in one week. He needs the money. Yes we are introduced to seemingly clichéd aspects of this film, big scary place with voices calling people, but the film, thanks to the director "Brad Anderson", takes us literally through a maze of paranoia that truly makes this film a pleasant/unpleasant experience to watch. The film is atmospheric; we don't get bombarded with information about the past events, but little by little fined out, yet remains an air of obscurity to get us involved.
The film is a mélange of horror and insanity. As each day of the week pass, we see how each of the characters is driven into possession. For instance, we have one with finding out the history of a former patient there by secretly here recordings of her therapy, gradually mounting to the ninth session, hence the title of the film. One suspects treachery from the others, and that is augmented by a seemingly by a seemingly unstable household situation. It becomes a labyrinth, and the history of the hospital doesn't facilitate the situation. We ourselves as viewers begin to doubt what we see, until finally we reach a macabre ending that well leave us bewildered, yet wanting to watch the film again, with hope to catch more signs. "Anderson" has this natural ability to carefully utilize the cinematography to present us with an eerie feeling. Those who have seen some of his other films, notably "The Machinist", will understand more what I mean.
One of the major downturns on this film that I find is the casting of some actors, especially that of "Caruso". I just couldn't help myself of getting the impression that he will come up with some cheesy line to say. He tried his best, I don't deny that, but I just felt he wasn't the right one to this job. There's also something I can't elaborate more on, lest I spoil, but I felt that in some parts the film focuses on superfluous details that end up confusing us for without a purpose. I get the concept of mystery, the films works well on it, but I just felt some parts should have been treated in a better way.
To any fan of the psychological horror genre, this shall be good to watch. I added the "thriller" tag because the film isn't exclusively horror. It borrows some elements, and uses them well. I heard good talk about this one here before I saw it, and when I did, I wasn't disappointed. The way of presentation alone, with the camera movements to explore the paranoia and madness, earns the film praise. It isn't perfect, but it sure is a good experience to watch it during a stormy light with the speakers on high volume. I know I saw it on my laptop, but I won't hesitate seeing it again in cinema if I find it.