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Session 9

For five hazmat specialists, finding asbestos is the least of their worries when they take on the task of rehabbing the creepy, decrepit Danvers Mental Hospital.


Gordon Fleming (Peter Mullan) has one last chance to save his hazardous materials elimination company from going under. He finds his chance when he wins the cleanup contract for the abandoned and decaying Danvers insane asylum, which has been closed for 15 years. The pressure's on for Fleming and his men, including no-nonsense crew chief Phil (David Caruso), to complete the job in record time. In the very first week of work, however, the men find themselves captivated by the eerie place and are drawn into the mystery of its history. Mike (Stephen Gevedon) spends break time listening to old tapes of patients left in the old offices; flaky Hank (Josh Lucas) disappears after finding hidden treasure in the morgue; even Gordon himself seems to be having weird bouts of mental confusion. Then there's Gordon's young nephew Jeff (Brendan Sexton III), who's clearly on the wrong job--he's terrified of the dark.


In this scary little horror flick, where the crew has just as many skeletons in the closet as the huge, looming asylum they're cleaning up, everyone gives off their own respective vibe quite effectively. Caruso as the efficient naysayer slyly makes you wonder what he's really up to. Why is he so insistent that they won't meet their deadline, and why does he question Fleming's ability? Fleming keeps you guessing about his secrets 'til the very end. Gevedon (who also co-wrote) as a would-be lawyer-turned-blue-collar worker apparently has a vested interest in the tape-recorded therapy sessions he's dredged up--or does he? Lucas as Hank is a money-grubbing jerk who goads his co-workers to distraction--especially Phil, whose girlfriend he stole--but he's ultimately not as bad as he seems and gets what he doesn't deserve. Mullet-headed Sexton is just weird, like he always is.


Had enough of trashy slasher pics with killer teens who toss off glib one-liners as they stab their friends while grooving to a Limp Bizkit tune? You're not the only one. Indie director Brad Anderson (Next Stop Wonderland) prefers doling out a healthy share of dread and menace for your psyche to digest, rather than employing a high schooler in a fright mask and black cloak to jolt you onto the edge of your seat. Some particularly standout scenes take place well after you've gotten the idea that yep, Danvers sure is a creepy place. For instance, young Jeff has a terrible phobia of the dark (OK, OK, it's the horror genre, you gotta have a few clichés) and panics after the lights go out while he's stuck in the basement. The result is a truly terrifying scene that'll not only bring back childhood fears of the unseen boogeyman lurking close in the dark, but also make you wonder where he's hiding tonight when you turn out your own lights.

Bottom Line:

Gripping, tense and moody, Session 9 will take you on a psychological trip that won't end until long after you've left the theater.