Some horror fans like their movies bloody and violent, but sometimes blood and gore is not needed to make a fantastic horror flick. One such flick that came out in 2001 that ignores the blood and guts and opts for a psychological terror that gets under your skin is Session 9. Session 9 builds up the tension with a slow and steady burn and ends things with a horror film that will have you thinking about it long after the credits roll. The film didn’t receive a very warm welcome when it first came out, but now that the film has a solid cult following, Scream Factory has gracefully released the flick on Blu-ray, with two new special features to go along with the features already present on the DVD. Is the Blu-ray worth the pickup? You damn well better believe it is.
RUN-TIME: 100 min
ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1
AUDIO: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
PRODUCTION DATE: 2001
RELEASE DATE: August 16, 2016
It looms up out of the woods like a dormant beast. Grand, imposing… abandoned and deteriorating, the Danvers State Mental Hospital, closed down for 15 years is about to receive 5 new visitors.
Donning protective gear, the men of the Hazmat Elimination Co. venture into the eerily vast and vacant asylum that is filled with an evil and mysterious past. Rampant patient abuse, medieval medical procedure and rumors of demonic possession are some of the many dark secrets the hospital holds – but then so do each of the men.
Closed down since 1985, the Danvers State Mental Hospital has fallen into a decrepit state, with mould and asbestos creeping through the walls. Some people want to renovate the building, so they look at hiring Hazmat Elimination Co. to come in and fix up the toxic issues.
Led by Gordan (Peter Mullan), who is desperate for the money now that he has a newborn baby at home and times are tough. He promises to get the job done in one week and he will hire the best men he knows. His partner, Phil (David Caruso) does not think it is possible, but he agrees to do it anyway. They bring in three guys, Hank (Josh Lucas), Mike ( Stephen Gevedon) and Gordon’s nephew Jeff (Brendan Sexton III). The group gets to cracking on cleaning up the mess, but it is not long before things start going astray.
First off, Gordon hears voices talking to him and starts to suspect that his friend Phil is up to no good. Phil, on the other hand, is giving off some strange vibes of his own. Meanwhile, Hank becomes preoccupied with a potential big score he found in the tunnels and Mike is busy in the basement listening to some session tapes of a patient known as Mary Hobbes, who suffers from multiple personality disorder. Among her personalities is the mysterious “Simon” who may or may not be an evil entity able to possess people who are weak. The only person really working is the mullet boy himself, Jeff. Where in the hell is Craig McManus (Larry Fessenden) when you need him?
As the days of the week pass by, things get more and more intense as people start disappearing and the finger pointing starts flying. What exactly is going on with the crew? Is the toxic environment to blame or is there something else more sinister at play here?
Session 9 grips the audience in the first minute, thanks to a creepy and spectacular setting in the actual Danvers State Hospital (sadly torn down now and turned into apartments). The building itself was the main selling feature for Director Brad Anderson (The Machinist) and writer Stephen Gevedon. They found the place and took a tour and worked their story around the setting. The story they went with gives off a creepy feeling that much like the mould in the air of Danvers, gets into your system and festers.
Another factor that makes Session 9 so damn brilliant is the extremely effective soundtrack by The Climax Golden Twins. It’s a low-key score, with a few hits of sorrowful piano notes that drive home that lonely, abandoned feeling.
Fans that enjoy a fast paced horror flick won’t be getting too many kicks out of Session 9 as it is a film that builds things up slowly. Pieces of the puzzle slowly shift into place and the film takes its time to let things come together. Once the ending rolls around, a few pieces are missing, but those missing pieces become whatever the viewer wants them to be.
Back in 2002 was when Session 9 came out on DVD, and I remember running out to the store to buy it. I showed the film to several people and I did my best to spread the word. I also remember diving into all the special features. We had a commentary by Brad Anderson and Stephen Gevedon to listen to. We had several extended and deleted scenes to peruse, storyboards to gawk at and a short featurette on the Danvers building with cast and crew interviews. It was a healthy package already, so what more could Scream Factory do to make you pick up the Blu?
Besides giving us all the features mentioned, Scream Factory recorded a new 49-minute interview with Director/Co-writer Brad Anderson, Actor/Co-writer Stephen Gevedon, Actors Josh Lucas, Brendan Sexton III, Larry Fessenden, Composers The Climax Golden Twins and Director Of Photography Uta Briesewitz. Sadly missing from the interviews are both David Caruso and Peter Mullan. The interviews are a fun look back at the filming and how damn creepy the Danvers State Hospital was. Was the place haunted? All I can tell you is that I wouldn’t want to live in an apartment building there. The only other new feature is a 20-minute Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark. Mr Clark visits the original location (whatever’s left), but also provides us with some shot on video footage from 2004 of his visit to Danvers. There are not a ton of “new” features, but what we do get is worth a watch.
Besides the features, Scream Factory has also provided potential buyers with a solid audio/visual experience. Session 9 was filmed with a digital camera back in 2001, so there was not any dirt, debris or grain to speak of, however, the film, for the most part, is sharp as a tack. DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 is the film’s only audio option, which utilised the surround soundscape quite nicely to provide a goosebump-inducing listening environment.
- NEW Return To Danvers: The Secrets Of SESSION 9 Featuring Interviews With Director/Co-writer Brad Anderson, Actor/Co-writer Stephen Gevedon, Actors Josh Lucas, Brendan Sexton III, Larry Fessenden, Composers The Climax Golden Twins And Director Of Photography Uta Briesewitz
- NEW Horror’s Hallowed Grounds – Revisiting The Locations Of The Film
- Audio Commentary With Brad Anderson And Stephen Gevedon
- Deleted Scenes And Alternate Ending With Optional Commentary By Director Brad Anderson
- Story To Screen Featurette
- The Haunted Palace Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer
Anyone that hasn’t checked out Session 9 needs to drop whatever they are doing and pick up the Scream Factory Blu-ray. The film is a psychological terror-ride and the Blu-ray is the best way to experience it.