31 Favorites #15: Session 9

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Session 9 is about an asbestos cleaning crew charged with cleaning up an old insane asylum. So yeah, you're probably already creeped out. Under the guidance of their foreman, a tense and desperate man named Gordon, the men are rushed to meet a looming deadline and the high expectations of their employer. As the crew begins work, one of them finds a series of tapes detailing a series of therapy sessions of one of the asylum’s old patients who, arguably, had multiple personality disorder. Of course, he decides that the best thing to do is to listen to the tapes, one by one. From there, strange things begin to happen, and the possibility that history is repeating itself is highly likely.

Session 9 is a wonderfully crafted film. The non-linear way manner in which the narrative unspools serves to disorient and confuse our sense and understanding of what’s happening. This fits beautifully with the film’s themes of memory, confusion, and loss of mental clarity.

It’s also one of those rare horror films that actually frightens me to the core. There’s something so real and terrible about this movie, that it’s hard to get it out of your head after you see it. And the fact that we’re left unable to truly define the nature of what happened - or we're at least open to more than one explanation - makes the entire film even more chilling. There’s (potentially) nothing supernatural influencing the behaviors of the cleaners. After all, whatever is troubling our group “lives within the weak and the wounded.” And aren’t we all a little weak and wounded at times?

Three Things I Love About It:

  1. There are two phrases from this film, specifically, that completely give me the chills when I revisit them – the aforementioned “I live within the weak and the wounded,” and “Hello Gordon.” The fact that these two phrases still have impact on me is pretty incredible, and speaks to the film's lingering effect on viewers. 
  2. This is another film that is completely built on atmosphere and not silly jump scares. It would be so easy to use them in this film – we’re in an abandoned insane asylum! Boogitty boo! But director Brad Anderson knows that a great dialogue and tense atmosphere can create plenty of discomfort on their own. He trusts himself and his actors, and I respect that a lot.
  3. I love that the film is told in a non-linear way. It has so much more impact than showing things as they happen, and once we discover what’s really going on, it’s almost too horrific to bear. This is one of those films that you may need to watch more than once and, in my opinion, it gets scarier with each viewing because your understanding of what's happening becomes more and more defined.
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