Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Session 9

I love movies that don’t seem try fit into any pre-defined category – like life, you’re never quite sure where they’re taking you.

Were “Silence of the Lambs,” or “The Sixth Sense,” or even “Psycho” horror films? I would strongly argue no – they were way too complex and multi-layered to qualify as genre films.

To me, they were simply great movies – it just so happened that (again, like life can be), they were unnervingly disturbing. I don’t mean disturbing as in you watch them and think “Wow – that was scary.” No, I mean disturbing as in “WTF – I’ll never be able to get that out of my head…”

Session 9 came out in 2001, and I remember seeing it at the time and being completely drawn in – the writing, acting, music and sound design were uniquely immersive, like a dream. I thought it was great…

I recently watched it again and was really struck: this film deserves to be called a masterpiece. Like “Hereditary,” it fits in no genre, but holy fuck is it disturbing. It is so richly layered and complex that I’m sure I’d still be catching details after 10 viewings.

But underlying the whole thing is where it was shot: the Danvers State Insane Asylum, a structure built in 1874 and opened in 1878. It closed its doors in 1985 and in a brilliant stroke of inspiration, Brad Anderson filmed the entirety of Session 9 inside the decaying and abandoned structure.

To say that the set pieces are creepy and unsettling is a huge understatement. The theme of psychosis was based on a true crime, but it’s character depictions are so real I felt like I knew these guys.

It’s one of those hidden gems that never really got the attention it deserved. My verdict? Four stars and a big thumbs up.

You won’t be disappointed.