Film / Session 9

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".... It's gonna get ugly."
Phil

A 2001 Psychological Horror about a cleaning crew busy taking asbestos off from the Danvers State Asylum (opened in 1855, condemned in 1985), which ends up being a much more...stressful job than any of them bargained for. Directed by Brad Anderson and starring Peter Mullan, David Caruso and Josh Lucas.


The movie provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: An actual one, a prominent landmark along Route 1. Very few changes were made to the site for the film. It is now an apartment complex.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The Sessions, the 9th of which gives the title of the movie and plays at the end.
    • And delivers one of the most, if not THE most, bone chilling scene in the movie.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In one scene, Hank finds some equipment for lobotomy. Later in the movie Gordon lobotomizes him with them, coupling it with Chekhov's Skill from Mikey's earlier mock-demonstration/description of the process on Jeff.
  • Daylight Horror: The most chilling moments in the film all happen in broad daylight - with the exception of Hank going back to the hospital at night to collect the valuables of deceased patients.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: It's mentioned that Mike's dad was a DA, and that Mike himself has ambitions of going into law school eventually. None of that really matters, because Mike gets murdered along with everyone else. The same goes with Hank and Phil's relationship drama with Amy.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: On one hand there is Mary killing her brother for breaking her doll and then killing her parents because they were screaming in terror. And then there is Gordon killing his wife because she accidentally spilled hot water on him and then his baby and dog because they were making noise. Whether this is also the reason behind the death of the team members is left unclear with maybe the exception of Phil.
  • Downer Ending: Gordon killed his wife, daughter and colleagues (even if the jury's still out on Hank), during a DID-induced psychotic break. Or, alternatively, after being possessed by Simon.
  • Eye Scream: See Chekhov's Gun. It's revealed that after Gordon lobotomized Hank, he left the silver 'ice-pick' embedded to the hilt in Hank's eye. He does the same thing to Craig.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Inverted. Gordon shows the team photos of his baby daughter and his wife, which might suggest Gordon will die before the end of the film. Gordon survives. His team and his family are not so lucky.
  • Foreshadowing: When Phil claims that everyone heard Amy say that Hank had gone to Miami to go to casino school, Gordon points out that none of them actually heard it: Phil claimed to have been on the phone to Amy, but they didn't actually hear her saying that herself. This clues the audience into the fact that we haven't actually heard Gordon's wife over the phone, we're just seeing him supposedly talking to her.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted - one of Gordon's victims is his baby daughter.
  • Jerk Ass: Hank. What happened to him was still rather jarring and sad though, mostly due to how drawn out it was. Jerk Ass or not, he didn't deserve that, but that's rather the point anyway.
    • Phil. Very much so. Phil is played as the biggest jerk in the movie, even worse than Hank towards the end, constantly giving the others shit and acting like an irrational asshole. This is probably a Red Herring to make Phil seem even more like the killer.
    • They're all jerkasses aside from Jeff. Mike is a mild Jerk Ass as well, since he is more on the teasing rather than cruel side.
  • The Killer in Me: Gordon.
  • Lobotomy: The practice of frontal lobotomy is discussed by the workers, and two eventually take place.
  • Madness Mantra: Hank keeps repeating "What are you doing here?" over and over again. These were the last words he said before he received an icepick lobotomy.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Are the horrific events that take place caused by Gordon snapping and killing his wife and daughter, then suffering Sanity Slippage afterward, or was he possessed by Simon before even that occurred, due to Simon's professed love of "liv[ing] in the weak and the wounded"?
  • Multi-Gendered Split Personalities: A sub-plot revolves around a psychiatric patient named Mary Hobbes, who suffered from dissociative identity disorder and had three "alters" named The Princess, Billy and Simon. Billy and Simon sound very masculine and have masculine names while The Princess sounds more feminine. The film leaves it deliberately ambiguous whether this is actually a case of dissociative identity disorder or Demonic Possession.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The only time you see any blood is in the denouement. Also, the scariest parts ( Gordon killing his wife and infant daughter, Mary's story, Gordon killing everyone) happen off screen.
    • Actually, there's quite a bit of blood towards the end. It just isn't splattered all over the screen.
  • Psychological Horror: There are only one or two "scare moments" throughout the film and instead the film relies on a lingering sense of tension and dread.
  • Recycled In Space: It's basically The Shining IN AN ABANDONED MENTAL ASYLUM!
  • Room Full of Crazy: The patient's room with blood-smeared photos and clippings.
  • Sanity Slippage: Gordon. And of course Mary from the recordings at one point.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Why Mary ended up in the asylum.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Craig gets called in after Hank's disappearance, only to be murdered almost immediately after arriving at the asylum.
  • Split Personality: Mary from the tapes appears to have three personalities named Princess, Billy and Simon. Simon is the one which drove her to murder, and the end of the film implies that Simon is now inhabiting Gordon as well.
  • Talking to Themself: There are two interesting variations.
    • Mary and her personalities. Mary can't communicate with anyone else, Princess only watches Mary and talks to Billy, Billy watches everyone and can contact all but Mary (though he avoids Simon) and Simon can talk to everyone, including Mary.
    • Gordon talking with already dead Phil in his head. Also possibly Gordon talking to his dead wife on a broken phone.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Gee, Jeff, your Uncle Gordon is coming towards you holding a sharp object in his hand, splattered in blood, and looking pissed, and you think it's about the Oreos? Although this might be excused due to Jeff coming down from an adrenaline rush and nyctophobia attack.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Double subverted. Gordon initially appears charming, friendly and easy-going, before... well, you know.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Was Hank in the room at the end?
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Gordon

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Session9