Projections - Movie Reviews

Session 9

Session 9

Brad Anderson's Session 9 is an ambitious psychological thriller packaged as a digitally stylized horror picture.  Its eerie atmosphere crumbles under its script like the ominous Danvers State Mental Hospital in Massachusetts - a 120 year old building now abandoned and inactive.  Anderson works in a fresh premise that serves like The Shining with a sinister environment to bring out the worst in its inhabitants.

This independent fare has nearly all of its characters in the unsavory occupation of dealing with hazardous materials such as those asbestos abatement workers deal with.  But there's nothing to ensure that this occupation in a creepy, unoccupied institution will provide some chilling potential.

Peter Mullan and David Caruso do their best in a clammy screenplay from Anderson and Stephen Gevedon who plays Mike.  Mullan is Gordon, an immigrant from Scotland who runs an asbestos abatement firm that wins on a low-bid the mighty task of transforming a vastly bleak building into a new-age office facility for the city.  Caruso, as Phil, is Gordon's chief supervisor who isn't pleased that Gordon has promised Danvers' engineer (Paul Guilfoyle) that the huge complex will be abated in a week.  The owner's hasty decision is primarily made to jump-start his professional and home life which involves raising a newborn.

This horror movie gets a little hairy as Phil's incredulous attitude makes sense because of the hired personnel who really aren't going to get the job done even in twice the allotted time which is probably what most of the other bidders figured into their pricing for the hefty, involving project.

Session 9 parallels how the work proceeds in Murphy's law fashion, with Gordon leading in the breakdowns with his failing marriage and unsuccessful enterprise.  The volatile relationship between owner and lead inside man becomes worst with the sudden disappearance of Hank and one might think that Anderson is trying to insinuate elements of The Blair Witch Project into territory that is a disintegrating schism of Alien and Don't Look Now two frightful films which work far more pliably on the disheveling of the mind.

The title becomes apparent in Mike's vignette as he becomes fixated with a personality disorder of one of the inmates, one Mary Hobbes, as her treatments become most uninhibited during the ninth taping.  And a blackout predictably traps Jeff in the catacombs of the sprawling enclave.

But, this horror show finally loses its psychological edge, revealing an opaque, unreal and sanguine side that turns the screws on limited suspense digital cinema.

Session 9

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