Fright Fest Review #11: Session 9 (2001)

You have no idea how hard it was for me not to make a CSI: Miami joke here.
They’re gonna do this job…asbestos they can.

Subgenre:  Psychological

Summary:  An asbestos abatement crew experiences strange occurrences when cleaning a defunct mental hospital.

Review:  Session 9 is one of those movies that’s been on my watch-list forever, but I’d never gotten around to.  Like the saying goes, better late than never.

Gordon is an Irish immigrant who’s struggling financially to support his wife and new baby.  When he gets the opportunity for his asbestos abatement company to clean a mental hospital in disrepair, he jumps at the chance, promising to do the job in just one week.  When he and his four employees get to work, the job quickly proves to be less simple than expected.  Gordon starts hearing strange noises coming from the patient rooms.  Bookish Mike becomes obsessed with a disturbing series of patient interview tapes.  Phil and Hank, who have a rocky history, grow increasingly antagonistic toward one another.

Session 9 is textbook psychological horror – there are no jump scares, no gory dismemberments, and no masked killers.  There are only five men, a decrepit asylum, and an unseen presence lurking in the shadows.  It’s a movie that ratchets up the tension until the very end, and never once allows it to deflate.  Atmosphere is king here – the real-life Danvers State Hospital is an amazing setting, and its crumbling walls and claustrophobic tunnels have a palpable, spooky ambiance.  The acting is solid across the board; even the oft-mocked David Caruso turns in a strong performance as the bitter Phil.

The Verdict:  Session 9 is insidious, effective horror, from its unassuming opening to its spine-chilling ending.  I give it eight-and-a-half haunted hospitals out of ten.

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