The Film (3.5/5)
Session 9 was an absolutely chilling horror experience when it was released to DVD in 2001. It had a theatrical release, but no one I knew was aware of it. My friends and I began to find copies of the film at our local Best Buy and Suncoast stores, and through fan word of mouth the film began to make waves. I remember first seeing it on a little TV in my bedroom at my Mom's house, and being absolutely chilled by the experience. Needless to say when Scream Factory announced it for Blu-ray I was quite excited to revisit the film on the format.
Session 9 stars Peter Mullan as Gordon Fleming a quite distressed man who owns an asbestos removal company in Suburban Massachusetts. He bids on a job to do the asbestos removal for the abandoned Danvers State Mental Hospital, and guarantees that the job will be finished in one week. Should he and his team of 4 other employees complete the work they will get 10,000 dollars additionally each.
One of the crew members, Mike, finds a series of tapes in one room labeled Sessions 1-9 detailing the mental degradation of a woman named Mary with multiple personalities who may have killed her family after cutting herself on a doll, Mike becomes obsessed by the tapes and listens to them in his spare time. As the days pass the team begins to feel the influence of the hospital, and also the stress of the impending deadline, and begin to act out toward one another.
Session 9 is an interesting film, but does not work for me personally as well as it did back in 2001. The film has a glacial pacing that on initial viewing helped to build a creepy and tense atmosphere. However, on second viewing that pacing both works for and against the film as it feels not enough happens early on to justify the film's running time.
The cinematography from Utz Briesewitz is quite solid with a quasi-documentary style that makes it feel like the viewer is there in the asylum with the crew. However, the film's more horrific moments are betrayed by abrupt editing that is neither scary or shocking, and just seem to offer a quick sudden pause before moving on to the next set-piece. The performances from the main cast are completely solid and feel true to the material. Special notice should be given to Jurian Hughes as the voice of Mary Hobbes on the "session" tapes who gives some of the film's most chilling performances entirely offscreen.
Session 9 is given a 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer by Scream Factory. The film was shot on an early form of HD digital video, and definitely looks the part. However, the transfer is nice, crisp, and clear. The level of detail is excellent throughout, blacks are deep, and flesh tones accurate.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track in English. The track is quite solid with dialogue coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues on the track.
Scream Factory has put together a nice package together for their release of Session 9. We get a commentary track by Brad Anderson, a 48 minute look back on the film. A new edition of Horror's Hallowed Grounds which look back at the Danvers location amongst other more minor locales in the film. There are also deleted scenes, story boards, an archive featurette, and the theatrical trailer.
Session 9 is a solid chiller from director Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Transiberian). The Blu-ray from Scream Factory looks and sounds quite excellent, and comes loaded with a solid slate of extras. RECOMMENDED.