Session 9 (2001)

Rating: B-

Dir: Brad Anderson
Star: Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon, Josh Lucas and the Danvers State Mental Hospital

I would be churlish to omit the last-named simply because it’s a building, as its brooding, ominous performance surpasses Vin Diesel’s entire filmography since Pitch Black. It’s the location into which a clear-up crew led by Gordon (Mullan) ventures, clearing asbestos, etc. in preparation for redevelopment. The remnants of its previous life are still to be found, most notably a series of tapes recording therapy sessions of one inmate and her multiple personalities. Adding to the tension, the crew have increasing issues of their own, ranging from family problems to a fear of the dark – the last thing you want in this establishment.

Anderson does a fine job of getting the sizzle going, but never quite delivers the necessary steak. Specifically, the two halves of the picture don’t join up; are the tapes somehow causing the problems, or are they an irrelevant sideshow? Despite this, there are any number of creepy moments, in which the building’s history, and the atrocities perpetrated there in the name of mental health, seem to be breaking through. All the actors deserve credit for their portrayal of men on the edge, and if the finale perhaps suggests the location came before little things like, oh, a script, there is still enough unrelenting tension to merit its existence. I look forward to seeing the Danvers State Mental Hospital in other roles…