Nicolas Roeg’s seminal thriller Don’t Look Now is a riveting study of couple’s frustrated sexual desire in the wake of their daughter’s death. Though the film’s mysterious, red-cloaked figure appears campy by today’s cynical standard, the film’s infamous sex scene is still remarkably audacious. Session 9 owes plenty to Roeg’s masterpiece and director Brad Anderson is more than willing to admit it. Anderson’s creeper is nowhere near as profound but the film’s old-fashioned pacing and revelatory camerawork bring to mind Roeg’s uniquely terrifying dreamworlds. Much of the film’s success rests on that which is unknown and that which is yet to be revealed. When five men from the Hazmat Elimination Co. try to clean an abandoned mental hospital of asbestos they slowly find themselves drawn into the building’s mysterious past. Mike (Stephen Gevedon) is slowly drawn to a series of nine audio sessions explicitly detailing the mental progress of a multiple personality case named Mary Hobbes, whose patient number makes creepy appearances throughout the film. When the ninth session is placed inside the audio player, the suspense is grueling. When Hank (Josh Lucas) discovers a collection of coins contained within the walls of the asylum’s basement, he hopes to make a break for Florida with his newfound fortune. The film’s trippy soundscape is both ominous and portentous. In one scene, Anderson’s camera pans through the wall to reveal that the coins are pouring out of what appears to be a crematorium. Hank remains oblivious. More remarkable than the film’s sheer terror is there’s actually very little violence on parade here. Session 9 is remarkably old-fashioned. Little happens during the film’s first half, bringing to mind Tobe Hooper’s claustrophobic terror mechanism The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Save for the disappointing finale, Session 9 proves to be a remarkably spare journey into the confines of the mind and a unique evocation of just how terrifying it is to loose one’s mind.
- Brad Anderson
- Brad Anderson, Steven Gevedon
- David Caruso, Steven Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle, Josh Lucas, Petter Mullan, Brandon Sexton III
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