This week’s recommendation is a little thriller called Session 9. Session 9 is the story of an asbestos abatement company that is on its last legs when the owner secures a contract to clean out an old asylum that could very well save the business. The crew promises to finish the job in one week but the asylum seems to have different plans. The only question is, is there something evil in the asylum or is the environment only toying with the crew’s own fears?
As with Moon, I feel giving too much of a plot synopsis would be doing you a disservice so I am just going to briefly touch on the main story and leave you to discover the details for yourself.
I like Session 9 for several reasons. For starters it is able to slowly build tension and fear throughout the film. Many horror films today rely on cheap scares and over the top gore to shock the audience but Session 9 takes the opposite route. Much of what really scares you happens in your mind and not on screen. There are no silent but hulking killers here. No shadowy organization harvesting people for sport and certainly no monsters from beyond. The director just builds the tension so that when the final reveal occurs it is almost a relief to finally be able to breath again. For me this makes a much more effective film.
With Session 9, storytelling is really on display. One of the characters in the film finds a box of old audio tapes that chronicle therapy sessions (thus the title) with a patient with a multiple personality disorder and one who has apparently committed a ghastly crime as a child. As the increasingly creepy content of the tapes are slowly revealed throughout the progression of the film the mental states of the asbestos crew are also shown to deteriorate. While this kind of parallel storytelling is not new, it works very well in this film and the tapes especially heighten the tension even though they are really unrelated to what is occurring in real time at the Asylum. I also enjoyed how each character’s flaws, prejudices, and fears all seemed to come to the surface as the job continued. If you have ever been stuck in a situation with the same people over a period of days you know how little annoyances that you would normally overlook become cause for full blown arguments and fights. Session 9 takes this situation to its ultimate conclusion. Well…at least as far as these characters are concerned.
One thing you will miss if you watch it on Netflix streaming are the special features. There are some segments on the disc that go into part of the story and how they ended up cutting a major element of the film. I found these segments interesting purely from a storytelling perspective and how excising just a couple of scenes can really change the narrative significantly. These segments also answer a few lingering questions that go unanswered at the end of the theatrical presentation. Regardless of the omission from the streaming presentation, the film still holds up pretty well. David Caruso is at his overacting best but really who would expect anything less?