If you are a movie geek like me, chances are at some stage you have decided to sit through a film on television, even though you have it proudly in your DVD collection.

I have no real idea why, but that’s just the way it goes.

A classic example recently was Session 9, a genuinely creepy flick that I have been championing for some time, which popped up on some obscure movie channel late one night.

I remember buying this on import DVD when it was released back in 2001 after reading its interesting premise in a horror magazine, and boy was I not disappointed.

As a matter of fact, I even have my DVD sleeve signed by Josh Lucas (one of the stars) after interviewing him at a junket for Poseidon.

Anyway, onto the film itself, an early effort from director Brad Anderson, who has gone on to make The Machinist and a host of quality TV fare such as Boardwalk Empire.

A blatantly low-budget offering (roughly $1.5 million), the film charts the progress of a bunch of renovators who are called in to remove asbestos and the like from a closed insane asylum.

Having undercut the competition in order to secure the job, the team are forced to complete a two-week job in a week, leading to an exhausting workload.

Add that to creepy corridors and the finding of a host of old investigative material in the asylum’s records rooms and you have a recipe for some unnerving goings-on.

And that is exactly what you get, although, thankfully, unlike most asylum-based horrors (of which there are a lot let’s face it), this is all about suggestion and matters of psychology rather than spirits in white sheets and in-your-face gore.

Despite the budget, Session 9 has a quality cast, with Peter Mullan excellent as the crew leader, who slowly unravels over the course of the film.

Mullan is joined by the likes of Lucas and David Caruso in a well-formed ensemble.

Anderson’s direction is spot-on, with lots of hints and suggestion, leaving the audience guessing for much of its running time.

There are definite echoes of something like The Shining here, and this is another slow-burner which may antagonise those who like plenty of bang for their buck.

The film also gets a major boost by filming at the real-life Danvers State Hospital (which has since been partly demolished), with the asylum being as much a character as the actors themselves.

Special mention must also go to the audio recordings of sessions with patients (hence the title) which, when played by one of the crew form a central strand of the movie.

Much like the phone calls in the original Black Christmas, these recordings are pretty creepy and add an impressively dark edge to proceedings.

Due to its budget etc Session 9 was never going to be a game-changing flick, or even one that most people are aware of to be honest.

But as a film that really makes the most of its talent, locations and storyline, this is right up there with the best of them, and I implore any genre fans who have yet to see this to check it out.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.

  • Ross Leslie

    Brilliant film, Simon! I wrote an essay on this for my masters just so I could big it up because, disgustingly, none of my classmates or lecturers had even heard of it! Easily one of the most underrated post-millennium supernatural horrors! We salute you Mr. Anderson!