Thursday, April 1, 2010

Film #19: Session 9 (2001)

Your workplace might seem like a stress-filled nuthouse.
There is the insane cube-mate who loudly slurps/chomps endless bushels of food and never turns off her doggie-bark ringtone -- even when you are late for a deadline.
Then there is that freak from accounting who cracked from the pressure long ago, and now wanders the office rat maze after hours studying name plates in order to “learn people’s names.”
Don’t forget your boss, who berates you for hours in the middle of the office, only to retreat to his desk to lick pennies and angrily giggle to himself.
Sound nutty?
Well, that is a jar of smooth Jif compared to the work environment thrust upon the characters in this week’s movie, “Session 9.”

The boys of a local asbestos removal company just scored the job of a lifetime – cleaning up the sprawling, abandoned Danvers State Psychiatric Hospital. It’s a government issued job, meaning an over-bloated budget and a fat bonus for the workers – if they can do the usual three week job in just seven days. It is a dangerous task under normal circumstances, but with the accelerated time frame tensions begin to rise among the group. It doesn’t help things that the removal company’s owner, Gordon Fleming, just became a father and is not adjusting to the “happy event” very well. Sleepless nights of endless baby crying and fights with the wife are stressing old Gordon out. Add on this business of cleaning out the increasingly creepy hospital and that boy’s mind gets wound up tighter than a Gnats ass.

To make matters worse, it is soon discovered that the ancient psychiatric hospital doesn’t have that rosy of a past. What!? We thought being committed was all unicorn flavored cupcakes!
Some hardcore headcases were shackled in those walls, a fact crew member Mike learns all too well when he begins listening to a series of therapy session tapes (nine, to be exact) he found in the hospital's decrepit storage room.

The exhausted team members start to fight, deadly asbestos is flying everywhere, Mike’s session tapes with a multiple personality disorder minx are increasingly intense, and Gordon’s muthergrabbin’ baby just won’t stop crying! This horror stew is about to boil over and scald!
Oh, and that “not so rosy past” we just mentioned doesn’t seem to want to stay in its place inside Danvers Psychiatric Hospital. Seems history is trying to repeat itself, this time with our cancer-covered cleanup clan.
Workplace horrors abound in the 2001 creeper “Session 9.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 4.6
Chris Dimick analyzes:
“Weeks ago Nick and I were chastising modern American filmmakers for not keeping up with the recent masterpieces produced by foreign horror filmmakers. Thankfully, American made Session 9 proved me wrong – there are still some in Hollywood who know how to spin a great scary tale. Writer-Director Brad Anderson has created that rare gem of horror in Session 9. You don’t love it because it was stupidly funny. You don’t love it because of the blood, guts and sex. You love it because it is an excellent film. Session 9 is high-tier horror.

Now, this movie isn’t all that deep, but it is definitely smart. The effective writing, the noteworthy acting, the original plot, the crisp cinematography… it was so good that for most of the movie Nick and I didn’t say a word to each other – we were too captivated! For two blabber-mouthed smart-asses like us, this is very rare!

The best part of Session 9 is that it kept itself grounded in reality, while also delivering hints of the supernatural and grotesque. There wasn’t a single point in the story that makes you think “ahhhhhhhhhhh, yeah right, that’d never happen.” The realistic plot was mirrored in the dialog. The conversations between the increasingly tense cleaning crew are spot on to the situation – real dialog exchanges that people would have under an extreme situation.

The atmosphere created just the right depressed and stressed tone. For example, when Mike starts telling the story of a crazed patient who once lived at the facility, detailing the horrific experiences that drove her insane, the director showed images of insects crawling and fighting on the hospital’s surrounding wildflowers. Typing it out makes it sound cheesy, but actually this was a very effective way to heighten the drama and horror of Mike’s monologue without actually showing the horrific events that happened to this girl. A Satanic baby-blood drinking incest orgy probably looks scary too, but to me nothing is freakier than an ant and a bee fighting. Bugs are sick, dawg!

The slow pace of this movie worked in its favor. Instead of the “high-octane thrill ride” promised in so many mainstream crapfests recently, Session 9 understood the power of the slow build. Like the slow-clap, the plot of this flick started subtly, maybe even timidly, and gradually got loud and more tense with each hit of clapboard. This build to outright horror (you are gonna squirm near the end: eye damage is involved) left me with a literal chill down my back and patriotism in my heart. Once again, I’m proud of my country! America! Fu*k-yeah! Celebrate! Time to go fire a gun at an Indian and ride a flag-draped bald eagle to the strip club!”

N-Rating: 4.6
Nick Rich analyzes:
“Oh, dear dream-of-one-day-living-in-an-old-insane-asylum-and-converting-it into-a-"cozy"-residence how I shall miss you! After watching a film like Session 9, any chance of even visiting a state hospital (especially on family day) or watching a psychiatry show drops 97% (well, to be honest I was at 96% for the TV shows before Session 9). Any way you slice this nuthouse film it comes out as a hearty piece of horror pie which you're sure to enjoy.

Now, as this was my second viewing my take is going to be a bit different from Chris's. I first saw this film around 2002 and was blown away by it. Little did I know that a lazy afternoon behind shade-drawn windows watching a USA Films production company movie (which had NO street cred whatsoever in my eyes) on cable would yeild such horrific results (at best I was hoping for a mild distraction)!

Back to 2010: with my mind freed up from trying to figure out the plot I was able to enjoy the wonder and glory that is good type casting. With a film like this (quiet and contained), casting is essential and all too easy to mess up - especially if you're tempted to type cast. Amazingly this film navigated those infamously stormy waters with gusto and produced some of the best type casting I've ever seen:

Salt of The Earth Unassuming British Guy. check.
Intelligent, but Dumpy Guy Who Looks Like Vincent D'onofrio. Check.
Cocky Dude Everyone (Even The Audience) Hates. Check.
Kid Who Only Plays Loser Punks. Check.
David #$%$ Caruso. CHECK.

The beauty was, I knew most of the actors and had seen them in similar roles but not enough to wear me out of their particular brand (which is rare). Additionally, their brands fit perfectly into the characters they were selected to play (it's becoming difficult to put David Caruso in situations where a) he gets angry about something he hasn't been before and b) we believe he'd be as ticked off as he always is). All in all, I really can't compliment the casting enough and am truly appreciative that there are situation-ally good actors out there who aren't overexposed. This movie wasn't a star-studded event that was reaching for Oscar gold and glory, but a basic horror story with a believable cast that will weasel its way into your head... so enjoy the intrusion!

The Skinny: Check this flick out a) if you're having a rough week at work (it will make you appreciate your job no matter how bad it is!) or b) you think David Caruso has nothing left to yell about. Seriously, check this one out.”

RDHP Celebrates Mullets!

Thanks to the years of hard work throughout the 2000s by countless doctors, hater bloggers, and common sense, today our country is nearly free of mulletism. But back in 2001, mulletism -- the life-altering follicle disease usually carried by white trash -- was still rampant in parts of the US, as shown in Session 9. In honor of the character Jeff, who bravely went on camera despite his crippling, hideous mulletism, the Rich-Dimick Horror Project salute that now contained fashion disaster dinosaur known as "The Mullet."

Kentucky Waterfall

Beaver Pelt


Ape Drape

Camero Cut

Hockey Hair




Tennessee Top Hat

Things We Learned From Watching Session 9:
-Children make you go insane.
-Perpetual baby crying will make you want to kill people.
-Whittle babies are cute black holes that suck out your soul.
-Having a child ruins your career.
-Kids destroy your personal relationships with family, friends and coworkers.
-Dead baby jokes were invented for a reason.
-Don't have children.

RDHP Presents:
Jobs/Places You Should Never Work/Visit
(No Matter How Good the Money)
The asbestos removal dudes in Session 9 should have known better than to go to work in a freaky abandoned mental hospital. That’s bad mojo. There are just some jobs and places you should never try and conquer for a buck. Such as the following:

Toyota Crash Test Facility
Have these “my-accelrator-stuck!” crash victims ever heard of the gear Neutral?

Distant Relatives Estate (to claim your inheritance)
Unless you are suicidal or like being hacked up by ghosts, stay away.

Tiger Woods Underwear Washer
So many stains, so little soap.

NBC Late-night Talk Show Host
The National Broadcasting Company doesn’t use lube… poor, sore, Coco.

Canadian Clinic
Free health care - coming soon to America!

Bachelorette Party Stripper at Lorena Bobbit’s House
Run if she offers you “your tip.” Oldschool!

Downtown Baghdad McDonalds
Middle-Eastern people LOVE Americanization, right?

Hilton Hotel in Paris, France
I know it's not THE Paris Hilton, but I still wouldn’t risk “entering” it.
Gonna bet the hotel is full of bugs and the carpet doesn't match the drapes.

Mexico City Police Officer
Wait? Mexico City has a police force?

Space Stations that Have the Ability to Destroy Worlds
The workforce is strong in this one.

Ahhhh the Buckeye State, America’s armpit.

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