August 22, 2016

Blu-ray Review:: Session 9 (2001)

"One of the best Haunted House movies of all-time."
(aka The Weak and the Wounded)
Release Date: August 10th, 2001.
Country: USA
Rating: R
Written by: Brad Anderson and Stephen Gevedon.
Directed by: Brad Anderson.
Starring: Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Josh Lucas, Stephen Gevedon, Brendan Sexton III, and Larry Fessenden.

One of the best pure Horror movies of the new millennium (or that we've ever seen, period), Session 9 is a quiet, eerie movie that will get under your skin and stay there. For days.

Now, the tough, jaded type of Horror fans who take pride in the fact that nothing can scare them, might be immune to the effects of this movie. Everyone else though, will most likely be freaked out after watching Session 9, especially if you watch it alone, in the dark, and late at night... which is how most Horror movies should always be watched anyhow.

The "What We Learned" section below is going to contain a pretty big spoiler for the movie, and if you haven't seen it yet, we implore you to skip that section completely, until you have. This is a great movie, and it deserves to be seen 100% Spoiler Free. Please don't ruin it for yourselves.

*This is a repost of a review that we did in 2015, updated for the Blu-ray release.

The plot for this one is pretty simple, and even a bit sparse: A Hazmat crew accepts a job removing asbestos from the abandoned Danvers State Mental Hospital, wherein strange things begin to happen. And by strange, we mean creepy.

Crew boss Gordon needs this job to keep his company afloat, and with a new baby at home, he's under a lot of stress to pull this job off perfectly. Right hand man Phil is there to support Gordon, although he's not thrilled that another guy on the crew, Hank, stole his girlfriend from him, and is banging her on the reg, always happy to shove it in Phil's face. Mike is the vaguely dissatisfied ex-lawyer who is living well below his expectations, and Jeff is Gordon's goofy Nephew who is afraid of the dark, and paralyzingly so.

When Mike finds an old box containing session tapes of a doctor interviewing his patient, Mary Hobbes (who killed her family and suffers from multiple-personality disorder), he is compelled to listen to them... which leads to everyone on the crew to begin mentally deteriorating in their own way.

...and that's all we're saying about the plot.

Session 9 is an absolute clinic on how to tell a terrifying story using little more than mood and atmosphere. This movie gets under your skin not only with its perfect, terrifying location, but with the subtle sense of wrongness that it establishes from the start. When we think of movies that have genuinely scare and unnerved us -and we're talking about in our adult lives here, not when we were kids, when everything scared us- Session 9 is one of the very first movies that comes to mind.

And years after the fact, when we do think about Session 9, we always hear that damn piano music in our heads.

From the start of the movie, you get the feeling that something wrong, and maybe even evil, is afoot here. Mike is virtually lead to the box that contains the session tapes, and once he begins to listen to them, and become obsessed with the disturbing interviews with Mary Hobbes, everything starts going horribly wrong for he and his crew. Are the happenings supernatural, or purely psychological? That's been intentionally left for the viewer to decide for themselves, and you can argue the case for one over the other all you like, but the honest answer is that it's both.

The true star of this movie is the historic Danvers State Hospital. The birthplace of the frontal lobotomy, it's the perfect setting for a Horror movie, and in fact, it's been a part of Horror lore since way back when it was referenced in H.P. Lovecraft's work. It's since been demolished (which is a shame), but the fact that they were able to shoot Session 9 there will keep it alive in our nightmares forever. Oh, and the grounds that it was built on was originally called Salem Village; you know, where the Salem Witch Trials took place. CREEPY.

The human cast of the movie was pretty damned impressive in this one too. Peter Mullan is one of the best actors working today, who most people probably don't even know about. His work in Session 9, as well as Red Riding and Top of the Lake, is enough to make him one of our faves. Love him or hate him, David Caruso does his best David Caruso here, which is cool with us. Everyone else played their parts well enough.

Who would honestly take a job at a creepy-ass place like that? Even if it's not haunted, the odds that there's a Serial Killer or maniac living there are pretty strong, so either way, you're probably going to die there.

What ever happened to David Caruso? His career started off so strong, and them he kind of faded away, eventually ending up starring in that lame, tame CSI bullshit. He could have been one of the greats.

There's a little bit of gore here and there, especially towards the end, but it's a mostly bloodless affair overall.


This new 1080p transfer of Session 9 is fantastic, and it's likely as good as the movie will ever look. Session 9 was one of the first movies every shot using a 24p camera (you can read about that HERE), which means that it's always going to have that early "Shot on HD" feel to it, but to our eyes, this new transfer registered as nothing but crisp, clear, and gorgeous. The audio is sharp too, although we're not sure why Scream Factory opted to offer only a 2.0 track, completely forgoing a 5.1 mix.

The Special Features include a Commentary Track with Brad Anderson and Michael Gevedon that is absolutely worth a listen; and a nearly hour-long Doc where the cast and crew recall every phase of the movie's production, which was equally as compelling.

  • NEW Return To Danvers: The Secrets Of SESSION 9 Featuring Interviews With Director/Co-writer Brad Anderson, Actor/Co-writer Stephen Gevedon, Actors Josh Lucas, Brendan Sexton III, Larry Fessenden, Composers The Climax Golden Twins And Director Of Photography Uta Briesewitz.
  • NEW Horror's Hallowed Grounds – Revisiting The Locations of The Film.
  • Audio Commentary With Brad Anderson And Stephen Gevedon.
  • Deleted Scenes And Alternate Ending With Optional Commentary By Director Brad Anderson.
  • Story To Screen Featurette.
  • The Haunted Palace Featurette.
  • Theatrical Trailer.

Overall, this is an excellent disc which does this excellent movie great justice.

 ***Don't read this section until after you've watched the movie. Watch it with no preconceived notions in your head, then come back and read this.***

Is Session 9 about someone having a mental breakdown, or is there more of a Supernatural element at play here? While Brad Anderson and Stephen Gevedon seemed to have left the ending as ambiguous as possible, and people will argue that it's all about a mental breakdown and nothing more, there's no way that "Simon" isn't an external entity of some kind.

The scene at the beginning of the movie were Gordon sees the chair, we see his face slowly covered by a darkness, and then we hear "Simon's" voice say "Hello, Gordon." Now, he hears the voice before the box with the session tapes is even found and opened (and it's sealed up pretty tightly, in an out of the way location), so there's no way that Gordon heard the tapes or knew about "Simon" before his breakdown, so it can't be a byproduct of his losing his mind.

And as far as that box that holds the Session Tapes goes, be sure to watch that scene carefully; Mike is basically lead to that box by "something," and it's only after its opened that everyone starts freaking out in their own special ways.

So Gordon does have a break from reality and totally loses his shit, but we truly believe that whatever "Simon" is helped to facilitate that break.

"Simon" lives in the weak and the wounded, after all, Doc.

One of the best scary movies that we've ever seen, Session 9 is a Must See for any self-respecting Horror fan. Whether it's a Psychological Thriller or a Haunted House flick is up to you to decide, but either way, this is one effective, bleak movie that will chill you to the bone, and linger in your mind long after you've finished watching.

Buy this new Scream Factory disc and make sure it's on your Halloween watch list come October.


Session 9 is available now on Blu-ray, and DVD.

Since there's basically no female presence in Session 9, here are some more stills from the movie, for you to creep yourselves out over. Enjoy.


  1. I cuaght this one when is first came out, well maybe 2004 or so. Only watched it the one time.
    TBO, I remember thinking that Gordon was a mental patient there before it closed down. No reason now after watching it again that I can see for that explanation. Def seems supernatural to me on the second viewing.

  2. Have you guys seen Black Mountain Side yet? It's pretty good. Like a Canadian "Who goes There?"

  3. OMG, I did a search but couldn't find any sign of this movie on your blog. It's called a Tale of Tales. It's dated 2015. It has big stars in it, and it was filmed all in Italy at famous castles. I just finished watching it. It is fucking fantastic, IMHO.
    The sets are real places, and the costumes are insane. The period styles, like what the extras are doing in the background at diff times are amazing, it feels like you are watching something that was filmed through a time machine. Its a dark gothic fantasy horror, with almost all practical effects that are breathtaking.

    Find a copy or idk if it's on VOD somewhere. I DL it so...

    just saying, you guys won't be disappointed.

    1. Heard a lot fo great things about Tale of Tales. I believe it hits VOD and DVD in September, so I'll definitely check it out.

      Nice heads up :)

  4. Might sound kinda mean but I hope not lol, but what are your thoughts on cleaning up the sidebar on the right? Like remove some of the random pictures or something.

    For the purpose of making scrolling easier on the website? As of right now it's kinda difficult, especially if you slightly move the scroll bar it jumps like 8 lines.

    Just a suggestion. Cheers

    1. Not mean at all. I've been wanting to do that for some time now, but there's always somthing else taking my time. It's definitely going to happen.

  5. I saw "Session 9" when it first came out in theaters in 2001. I had high hopes for it after reading a stellar review in the L.A. Times, and while it had its moments, it ultimately left me feeling empty. Because of the cult following it has generated in the 15 years since its release, I recently decided to give it another shot and enjoyed it much more on a second viewing (perhaps because I kept my expectations low rather than high this time) -- but ultimately arrived at the conclusion that this is one of the most over-rated horror films of the 21st century, if not in all of cinema history. I came away feeling as though the filmmakers were granted access to shoot a movie at Danvers State Hospital -- a sublime setting for a horror movie -- and decided to construct a bare-bones plot around many lingering camera shots inside and outside of the hospital, overlaid with a creepy ambient score. It seemed Brad Anderson et al. were more interested in trying to re-create the unsettling vibe Kubrick so expertly delivered with "The Shining," rather than giving us anything original or buzz-worthy. I give it a B+ for style and a D+ for substance. Color me unimpressed. (And I might add that I am a hardcore, lifelong horror fan and film student who has seen the best-of-the-best and the worst-of-the-worst the genre has to offer, so I offer this opinion with some cred behind it.)

    1. Lol, I don't anybody compared it the The Shining, which while being a good movie, and also over hyped, is one of the worst King adaptations ever.
      At least Session 9 was original.
      It was made just at the beginning of mumblegore. I think that is one of the biggest issues is that people read too many reviews before they watch a movie. Even with all the reviews here, almost every one is written and read after I've already watched the movie for myself. I REFUSE to watch any trailers unless it's a verified teaser only.

  6. hey kids choosey dementos choose jiffy.