SESSION 9 Blu-ray Review
A sharp example of dreadful atmosphere with minimal production design, Brad Anderson‘s Session 9 is an acute psychological horror film that takes advantage of it’s bare narrative formula and successfully for the most part relies on character and mood to let the tension and creepy setting get under your skin. Shot on Sony’s CineAlta 24P HD camera, cinematographer Uta Briesewitz used natural lighting to establish a surreal tone in the claustrophobic abandoned mental hospital setting and though it looks like the standard for digital indie horror today, her technique was ahead of the curve in 2001 when everyone was shooting digital at 30 fps. The screenplay uses the Danvers State Asylum location for all it’s worth, especially considering they were only afforded a small section of the structure for safety reasons, combined with a plot inspired by a murder that took place in Boston in the mid-nineties’, a hypnotic dreadful journey unfolds that recalls atmospheric gems like Don’t Look Now , only Session 9 lacks that punch that the aforementioned film has at the climax.
A well casted ensemble that includes David Caruso, Peter Mullan, Stephen Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle, Josh Lucas and Brendan Sexton III, Session 9 follows an asbestos abatement crew as they’re rushed to compete for a bonus and have to contend for their physical safety as well as their own mental health. A series of session tapes found in this foreboding establishment unravels secrets of a former patient with multiple personalities that could very well connect the bizarre events unfolding around them. The always enjoyable Larry Fessenden shows up in an unforgettable cameo as well. Overall Session 9, though unfairly dumped upon initial release has earned cult status based on it’s stellar atmosphere, surreal tone and well rounded acting performances. This release from Scream Factory will hopefully further establish it’s reputation as an overlooked genre offering and reach a wider audience.
Scream Factory’s release offers two new special features including Return To Danvers: The Secrets of Session 9 that includes interviews with Brad Anderson, Stephen Gevedon, etc. and my personal favorite of the two, Horror’s Hallowed Grounds which provides a mesmerizing trip down the original filming locations with host Sean Clark. If you’re already a fan of Session 9, picking this up should be a n-brainer, but if you’ve never seen Session 9 and are mildly curious, I highly recommend grabbing this Scream Factory release and adding it to your collection.