Given how many ghost films there’ve been through cinema’s history, it’s impressive that director Brad Anderson’s Session 9 has managed to find a unique scenario for its story. It’s a classic combination of mundane meets extraordinary, nicely using the staff of a fiber removal group to strip an abandoned asylum shut down several years previously.
What Session 9 taps in to so well is the creepiness of modern abandoned buildings. Anyone who’s spent time creeping into desolate hotels will know that feeling of danger at what could be lurking within. Often, as the film astutely observes, its signs of recent small fires and graffiti on the wall that add a sense of real human threat: it’s often this very real presence that can push the mind further than it normally would into the realms of supernatural possibilities. We’re left a long time to get to grips with the the asylum in the film (its only real location) and the warnings to staff to stay away at night really add tension, along with the very real danger of the fibers, giving the impression the building itself is trying to kill those within.
It isn’t just the strong sense of location that makes this a really good watch however. Session 9 isn’t your standard ghost story, as most of the creeps are built up using semi-diegetic voice-overs taking the form of taped interview sessions between a former psychologist and patient of the asylum. The latter of which, it’s no spoiler to say, apparently has three distinct and odd personalities dwelling inside her. The effect, while not disturbing, is genuinely chilling, and its very enjoyable to allow the skin to shiver in accordance with the deranged dialogue.
Genuinely unique, genuinely chilling and with a genuinely, wonderfully mysterious ending, Session 9 is one to seek out.
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