First Time Watch: Session 9
Following a brief spell catching up on some classic films, I felt it was right to contrast it with a solid genre piece. I would consider myself a horror fan, eager to see the new releases regardless if it's something like 'Us' or 'Fantasy Island'. Having seen an abundance within the genre, a new addition to Netflix has been floating around social media, with many of my mutuals checking out what is considered a cult film. So with this series looking to widen my horizons and a film I had never heard of, it was the perfect time to throw caution to the wind and give it a go.
Plot Synopsis: A tale of terror when a group of asbestos removal workers start work in an abandoned insane asylum. The complex of buildings looms up out of the woods like a dormant beast. Grand, imposing ... abandoned, deteriorating. The residents of Danvers, Massachusetts steer well clear of the place. But Danvers State Mental Hospital, closed down for 15 years, is about to receive five new visitors...
My search for a true horror didn't go as planned, as 'Session 9' really isn't that much of a horror but much more of a psychological thriller. With a creepy setting and stories of insane asylum patients, the film doesn't dive into the horror aspects like other low budget ventures would do. With the poster and synopsis, you could be forgiven for expecting a totally creepy, abandoned hospital horror with your usual horror traits. 'Session 9' passes on this, though, opting for a very slow burn mystery that never really hams it up.
Focussing on 5 workers who are helping restore the abandoned site, the film relies on the worker's quarrels with one another in order to build tension. The group each have individual motives and issues with one another that provide a decent backdrop and combines well with the creepy setting. The film doesn't let on much as to what is actually happening, not really offering many clues as the film goes on, only overlapping with a series of tapes surrounding therapy sessions with a former patient - leading to the film's title. Mystery certainly is built within these tapes and the actions ensuing alongside it, leaving an expectancy for an overlap.
However, there isn't quite enough depth or tension built within the group to make it wholly effective, with the revelation failing to satisfy. For a 100-minute film with not an abundance of scares or thrills and a truly slow pace, the ending has to be nailed on to make a worthwhile viewing. The film slowly builds with little information but then doesn't nail the landing, relying heavily on a final piece of dialogue to glue everything together. The idea itself is actually an interesting concept but not enough is done with it, with a lot of filler being very apparent by the end of the film.
Verging on spoilers here, the film dips its toes into exploring multiple personalities, the main topic that features within the session tapes. Through the series of tapes, the film expands on a patient's three alternate personalties, setting up a big bad form similar to as seen in 'Split'. The issue with this is that a character's sole purpose in the film is to explore these tapes aimlessly in order for the film to work. This backstory, nonetheless, is interesting and had the film focussed more so on this, the viewing would be a lot more compelling. Unfortunately, the film doesn't really capitalise on this aspect to its full extent.
For a thriller of this type, not enough depth is given to the characters or to the eventual thing that causes havoc to the group. Due to this, the film's effect is not very strong, offering neither a thrilling or tense affair. It never gives in to losing its roots and becoming a full-on blood-soaked experience, keeping the scares to a minimum. The problem is that it goes too far in the opposite direction, leaving inciting moments to very few with a lot of filler in between, with the final pay off suffering heavily due to it. It's not a bad film, showing decent promise as a low budget picture but one that won't truly satisfy either.
Final Rating: 2/5
Not an awful watch but have to say I was disappointed by this film but perhaps expectations created beforehand played a role in doing so. As usual, thank you very much for reading my review, it is much appreciated and I hope you enjoyed the read. Make sure to return soon for more movie reviews, both old and new coming soon! Until then, make sure to stay safe!