(good) Horror Films discussion

Session 9

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message 1: by Ubik (new)

Ubik | 46 comments Hi all! Im new and I love horror. I read mostly SF and watch primarily horror (psychological to be exact). Since I see that this group seems to have good taste in film, I wanted to start my first thread with what I consider to be the best horror film ever made: Session 9.

Ive seen it about 100 times (literally) and still to this day can only find one flaw with it (continuity-ish error after taking out a subplot).

What does everyone else here think?

message 2: by Phillip (new)

Phillip since i can't remember whether ot not i've seen this one, it seems time to go back and check it out again. thanks for the tip. it sounds really familiar.

message 3: by Lindsey (new)

Lindsey (linbo) i have never been so scared to see someone wear sunglasses. awesome movie, definitely in my top five.

message 4: by WitchyFingers (new)

WitchyFingers I really enjoyed it- I found out about it when I started getting interested in urban exploration and found out about Danvers State- the (real) abandoned mental hospital where the movie was filmed before it was torn down. Such a shame.

Anyways, yes, it was a great and interesting story, and the sunglasses issue (I won't say much about it, for fear of spoiling) was truly creepy.

One of my favorite parts of this movie: when he found all the old things stashed in the wall, and was pulling them out, including glass eyes, etc.!

message 5: by Lindsey (new)

Lindsey (linbo) ooo, i forgot about when he was pulling all the stuff out of the wall! and what it was he was pulling the things from...gah, so creepy. i definitely need to watch it again.

message 6: by Ubik (new)

Ubik | 46 comments Great to see so many fans! I remember when it first came out, people were like "this movie sucks...its boring". Brad Anderson is an amazing director...he hasnt done a single thing I didnt like...

message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy | 238 comments Mod
I think this movie is awesome - and yes, the setting is ultra creepy. Too bad it's gone...

message 8: by Phillip (new)

Phillip i just got home from the video store, and i have this in my hands. i'll write something about it later.

message 9: by Ubik (new)

Ubik | 46 comments Ahhhhh, [rubs hands together evil-like:]. Cant wait to hear what you think Phillip

message 10: by Phillip (last edited Nov 06, 2008 11:58PM) (new)

Phillip Here's my take on it.

Session 9 (Brad Anderson)

An onslaught of SPOILERS:

I watched Session 9 tonight and had mixed feelings about it. There are a lot of things to like but most of those things come from other films. It borrows a lot from the Shining, among other films. The basic premise is that a man becomes possessed by a spirit that dwells within an asylum that looks more than a little like the Overlook Hotel. In two instances the hospital is photographed from a helicopter (the Overlook is filmed in two nearly identical shots). The chronology of time is established in Session 9 the same way it is in The Shining (....TUESDAY....), although Session 9 is condensed into one week.

The interiors borrow a lot from Tarkovsky. I'd wager Anderson studied "the zone" sequences from Stalker when preparing to make this film. The dripping water, the peeling paint and sepia tones, the dark corridors, the carefully arranged debris on the floor, the lighting in most of the rooms, especially the darker ones: all of that stuff seemed borrowed from Stalker.

The story unfolds as a crew of workmen take on a major environmental cleaning of an abandoned asylum. This job, which should take at least two weeks, is promised in one week, so the director tries to convince us that these men are working extremely hard to complete the task. In the process of doing the job, each of the men find themselves prey to a presence within the asylum. By the film's end, all but one have perished in a bloodbath of violence.

The acting is good (with the exception of the guy that plays Hank - but I always think that guy is hammy), the film is well photographed, it does a good job of building suspense in the first two acts; and I liked the music, which is kind of rare.

But I had problems with the way the narrative was flushed out. I felt Gordon's possesion by the place was really flimsy. The director didn't do a lot to establish that, other than let us know that this guy was under a lot of pressure financially. Further, the filmmaker does very little to explain why he killed his wife (which was his first victim, bad chronology).

Anderson spends too much time filming the workers bonding (and revealing all sort of possible psychological fodder). And, as I said above, we are supposed to believe that these guys are doing all this work, when we rarely see them actually do anything. The 49 minute mark arrives and you're still sort of wating for something to happen.

I'm sorry, I know I'm probably sounding hypocritical when i praise a not so well made (but highly entertaining) film like Zombie one day, and critique a film like this the next. But this film is clearly setting out to do something different - it is following a whole different code of filmmaking. It is trying to be a really well-made horror film with lot of psychological tension and torment. I don't think it lives up to films that have similar storylines and atmosphere, despite the good performances and art direction.

message 11: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 07, 2008 04:36PM) (new)

*Spoilers, I suppose*

I'm with Phillip for the most part on this one. I was (and still am) an enormous fan of the Silent Hill video games--personally, I think horror cannot get any more palpable than the first 3 in this series--and I was told that, if I liked them, I would love Session 9.

Session 9 is a clean, well shot movie which sets up horror quite well, but breaks my cardinal rule of horror: it gives everything away in the end. The darkness is exposed by a very clean beam of light. As opposed to leaving something disturbing in the hands of the audience, it takes it away by, instead, handing them an answer. A very clear answer to what has happened. The first time I watched this I was very engaged for quite some time and then it got to the "here's how it really is" section and I noticed that, not only was I no longer scared, I could not be scared by earlier parts anymore.

I feel like I should watch this again to make sure that these feelings I have are still fully representative of how I feel today, but I doubt that my opinion will change--which is unfortunate because, for quite some time, this movie goes in some interesting places. I just wish it stayed there.

Also, good eye on The Shining, Phillip--those cards had something which immediately struck me as recognizable but I just overlooked the obvious. And I'm always happy when Tarkovsky gets brought up.

This is a classic example of a movie which I feel like is truly grasping at horror, but is too caught up in what horror has been, as opposed to what horror could (and should) be.

message 12: by WitchyFingers (new)

WitchyFingers Phillip- I hadn't picked up on the similarities to The Shining, but it does all make sense. Interesting interpretation.

And yes- I am with you on the point that they're supposed to be working so hard, and they seem to be doing a whole hell of a lot of nothing.

Still, it scared me quite a bit the first time I watched it. I can definitely understand some of the criticisms, though.

message 13: by Phillip (last edited Nov 07, 2008 04:11PM) (new)

Phillip i hope i didn't come off too negative. as i said in my opening sentence, there's a lot to like here. but for various reasons, well, i've already said it. it just isn't a perfect film, but there are so few of those floating around.....

mike really hit the nail on the head. there is a lot of atmospheric stuff in the first two acts, and that's when the film really works - i should have included in that one sentence where i say the 49 minute mark comes and nothing has happened. what i wanted to add was it doesn't matter that nothing has happened, because the vibe is perfect (read: creepy, scary, etc.) DESPITE the fact that nothing has "happened". that's something to applaud, i think.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

That's a very good point. The extended atmosphere is really strong and it feels like something is always threatening to happen, which builds a great tension. But, again, then everything is given away to us. Anderson did the exact same thing with The Machinist, as well--set up loads of atmosphere and then refuse to let the audiance do any thinking for themselves in the end by doing the whole "See? That's how it is!" thing.

message 15: by Phillip (new)

Phillip oh, it's the same director as the machinst...that makes sense. i'm with you...i'm sick of these directors that have so little faith in their audience.

we've said this before (on various other threads): it's only mysterious when the audience DOESN'T know...

message 16: by Ubik (new)

Ubik | 46 comments There is still a lot of speculation left to me. I mean, in commentary Brad Anderson even states this is why he only leaves it as an audio track at the end and not go through the whole thing. We KNOW what happened by that point so obviously we dont need to see it, but seeing him there and *HE* finally "gets it" is what is really on display here. Also, the sounds themselves are creepier than ever having seen it: the dog whining, the baby gurgling blood....it really gets under your skin. Im riveted EVER SINGLE time...and like I said, Ive seen it a gajillion times...

message 17: by Phillip (new)

Phillip cool. no one on this list will ever tell you you're wrong in your assessment of a film. i'm glad you love the film. i know how it is - there are films i love that no one seems to get, and it's cool. thank the great spirits we're all wired differently. it would be really awful if we all loved the same movies, because then filmmakers would make the same film over and over again (oh, i guess that's already happening as we speak...).

; )

cheers, ubik, and thanks for posting. i'm glad i saw this film.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I absolutely second that. I still liked the movie and can totally get behind your love of it. Again, I should probably watch it again, as well.

message 19: by Amy (new)

Amy | 238 comments Mod
I'll just add that to me what really makes this movie is the building, and what the director does with it - creeepeee...

message 20: by Phillip (new)

Phillip check out stalker, amy....check it out....check it.

Tera (TheBookishAbyss) I wasn't truly taken in by this one either. I felt like the plot was a bit schizophrenic as it bounced around too much before settling on a direction which by that point did not have enough detail to be convincing. I did like listening to the taped sessions, that was fascinating and the stuff in the wall was disturbing.

message 22: by Maryse (new)

Maryse (belle_maryse) | 24 comments I saw this in my horror film class. Our professor was a huge fan. Anyway, I thought it was good. Creepy, especially the tape sessions. I'm still a little confused about the possession, though, and why it happened. I think I need to watch this again

message 23: by Ravenskya (new)

Ravenskya  (ravenskya) Funny, I never equated this to "The Shining" for some reason I always mentally catalogued it with "Jacob's Ladder" although Jacob's Ladder really is in a category all it's own.

message 24: by Ubik (new)

Ubik | 46 comments Thats really cool that your professor loved it and exposed you all to it. The more people who find out about this gem the better. Brad Anderson has a few more films in the works including a horror called 'All Lost Souls' and an adaptation of Concrete Island by J.G. Ballard

message 25: by Maryse (new)

Maryse (belle_maryse) | 24 comments Yup, a class to watch horror films. I took it as a free elective during college as a breather from my science-laden subjects. Figured I might as well get to watch a free movie every week if I'm going to spend most of my time in school. :)

message 26: by Jill (new)

Jill (wanderingrogue) | 51 comments Just Plain Rob! wrote: "Horror film class?!? Where do you go to school? Man...I wish we had horror film classes where I live. Hell, I could probably TEACH!"

One of the TAs teaching at the college I work at is teaching an entire class on slasher films and the horror genre in general. It's actually getting kinda popular these days to offer these classes. The students love it. :)

message 27: by Jill (last edited Mar 04, 2009 07:11PM) (new)

Jill (wanderingrogue) | 51 comments And I loved Session 9. Even the ending. To the people who think it was underestimating the audience to give away so much, remember: there are people out there who couldn't see the endings of M. Night Shyamalan movies coming a mile away. Not everything can be Eraserhead. ;)

message 28: by Phillip (new)

Phillip yeah, but that was the last time one of his endings took me by surprise.

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Jill: no, not everything can be Eraserhead, but I would love a world in which there is just a bit more Eraserhead in everything. :)

message 30: by Phillip (new)

Phillip that's where i'm living these days...down the hall from henry....

message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, I hear that in heaven everything is fine.

message 32: by Phillip (new)

Phillip it's OK if you have a radiator (that works)...

message 33: by Phillip (new)

Phillip i hate it when that happens...

message 34: by Jill (new)

Jill (wanderingrogue) | 51 comments Paul wrote: "What was the girl possessed by? The voice was scary, when she said "Doc" in that voice. Definately a creepy voice. Session 9 is one of those movies where a big monster isn't half a scary as a myste..."

Not possessed. Multiple personalities.

message 35: by Phillip (new)

Phillip i hate it when that happens...

message 36: by Jill (new)

Jill (wanderingrogue) | 51 comments Paul wrote: "Ye are wrong Jill. The "multiple personality" said it targets the weak and the wounded. It also possesses the mind of the cleaner ( the guy who kills everyone). I want to know what that thing is, c..."

See, that's the beauty of the film. You don't know if it was something supernatural or not. We don't know if it was the hospital or the people that were haunted. I think it was the people. I don't think the girl was possessed. I don't think the cleaner was either.

Tera (TheBookishAbyss) Phillip said: "yeah, but that was the last time one of his endings took me by surprise."

I have to agree with you there. I keep watching his films in hopes that he'll get it right again, but to no avail (yet?). I know we have had this discussion before...

message 38: by Ubik (new)

Ubik | 46 comments TeraD wrote: "Phillip said: "yeah, but that was the last time one of his endings took me by surprise."

I have to agree with you there. I keep watching his films in hopes that he'll get it right again, but to ..."

See, I never watch a film expecting twists or trying to predict anything. I just let the movie "happen" and thats that. Of course there are plenty of times where I *cant* not predict whats going to happen because its just SO bad (i.e. Secret Window or Hide And Seek)

message 39: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 06, 2009 09:26PM) (new)

I think that's just the thing with Shyamalan though--he's made his career on being the guy who does twist endings. So because everyone knows going into it that there's going to be a twist its almost impossible to just let the movie happen and not predict the twist. I agree that one should just let the movie "happen," but its difficult if its the director of the "happening." Sorry...I had to!

message 40: by Ubik (new)

Ubik | 46 comments LOL. Yeah, I expect a twist with him most of the time (or an anti-twist) because thats just what he does, but in general I dont seek it out. A lot of people go into every film like that which Im glad I dont. I dont even watch previews half the time.

message 41: by GracieKat (new)

GracieKat | 15 comments Mike wrote: "*Spoilers, I suppose*

I'm with Phillip for the most part on this one. I was (and still am) an enormous fan of the Silent Hill video games--personally, I think horror cannot get any more palpable..."

I was looking at this mainly to see if someone did bring up Silent Hill. You didn't disappoint!

I thought it ws pretty good but I wish that it would have gone more into the stories on the reels that the one guy was listening too. I found myself more interested in them than what was going on everywhere else. The only thing that really bugged me was they're all the time saying "We need to get this done, we need to hurry" but most of the shots are of them yakking outside or having lunch and whatnot. How often did they actually work?

message 42: by Phillip (new)

Phillip i made the same comment above...a major continuity flaw of the film

message 43: by GracieKat (new)

GracieKat | 15 comments Sorry, I must have missed that.

message 44: by Phillip (last edited May 04, 2009 08:38PM) (new)

Phillip no worries!

(if anything, i was agreeing with you)

message 45: by GracieKat (new)

GracieKat | 15 comments I just reread everything. I really liked this movie. I don't think it was great horror by any means but after watching so many horror movies it's hard to find one that gives me the creeps so I'll call it good just for being able to do that.

I was wondering near the end, lso, if the "personality" was a personality or a demon or what. I got the impression it was a demon or ghost or what have you. I'm going to look for it on Amazon so I can rewatch it. It's been a while so I don't want to get into too much detail in case I've mixed it up in my head with all the other bits of horror movies floating around in there.

message 46: by Maya (new)

Maya (mrskitty) | 2 comments hi im new to this discussion when i saw it was about session 9 i had to join i absolutely loved that movie its very good i watched again recently i never get sick of it i wish they would make horror movies like that again

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