Director: Brad Anderson
Stars: David Caruso, Steven Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle
An asbestos abatement crew wins the bid for an abandoned insane asylum. What should be a straightforward, if rather rushed, job, is complicated by the personal histories of the crew. In particular, Hank is dating Phil’s old girlfriend, and Gordon’s new baby seems to be unnerving him more than should be expected.
Netflix thinks it knows me. Every time I go to check what it suggests, “Session 9” is there. Netflix even says that I would rate the movie and give it 5 stars. For months, Netflix kept insisting that I watch this movie, nagging me every time without thyme or reason, “Since you liked ‘Toy Story 3’ you’d LOVE ‘Session 9′” Finally I gave into Netflix’s incessant demands and gave “Session 9” a shot because, apparently, I was supposed to like it. Well, I watched it, are you happy now, Netflix? ARE YOU HAPPY?!
The movie opens with Bill and Gordon (David Caruso and Peter Mullan) as two friends who run an asbestos removal company. They are competing to get a contract to remove asbestos from an abandoned mental hospital. Gordon promises to do the job in a week because they really really need the job, though why he needs it so desperately is never fully explained.
Speaking of explanations, this movie does a terrible job with them. Gordon’s backstory is a mess. In the opening he proudly shows off pictures of his new baby and his wife. When he’s at home, however, he simply sits in the truck, glaring longingly at a woman and a baby that I can only assume is his family. Is there tension here, are they divorced, is he just sitting in the car because he’s bored? Who the fuck knows?
So the crew comes in to clean out the scary, haunted mental institution. This I have a problem with. It seemed WAY too unoriginal. I mean, a haunted mental hospital? Really? Might as well have a hunted graveyard. It’s just a predictable place for a scare. In fact establishing the history of the place and having the characters discuss that it might be haunted is just a waste. The fact that its a horror movie set in an abandoned mental hospital clearly means the place is haunted. I may just be cynical, however.
If the mental hospital is haunted, its by some pretty lazy ghosts. Except for Gordon’s nonsensical flashbacks (or are they even flashbacks!?), the first hour of the movie is nothing but asbestos clean-up. The acting in the movie is wonderful, but its a lot of good talent going to waste for a film that’s just about cleaning asbestos. There’s dialogues about the dangers of asbestos, the necessity for proper safety equipment, and on and on. Apparently Netflix thinks I like asbestos?
Finally, mildly spooky stuff starts to happen. One of the workers finds recorded tapes of some creepy therapy sessions, 9 of them to be precise. There’s not really suspense generated with these tapes as much as weak curiosity. I watch the movie and wonder what’s going to be on “Session 9?” knowing full well that the movie will explain it’s title at some point. Later one of the workers finds some gold coins hidden in the wall and disappears, but that’s about as scary as we get for a film that’s called a “horror.”
The movie is directed by Brad Anderson and, similar to what he did with “The Machinist,” the movie’s central theme is stress. Gordon’t got a lot of stress going on, as implied by the confusing flashbacks which eventually get explained at the end of the movie. There’s a twist that’s logical and makes sense with the rest of the movie. But having to sit thorough an hour of boring (though superbly acted) asbestos removal, the casual, non-linear, twist ending is an insufficient reward. Overall, I gave it a 4, mostly to get Netflix to shut the fuck up.