I wish I liked this movie more than I do. It's a noble attempt to make an intelligent horror movie, one which avoids the teen-slasher cliches, which shoots for tension rather than Grand Guignol. It just doesn't add up to much, that's all.A big problem is the look of the movie, which was shot on HDTV. It looks like a sitcom--all cheery, flat colors. This is especially debilitating in a film that depends so strongly, or at any rate is trying to, on mood. Watching Session 9, you always know which parts are supposed to be creepy--but the creepiness isn't there. The really good horror movies wallow in claustrophobia, that delicious feeling that terror is always just around the corner. And there's virtually none of it here.
Taking place entirely within an abandoned mental hospital, where an asbestos crew is renovating, Session 9 contains the germs of some excellent ideas--how hard is it to generate scares in a setting like that?--but the tension isn't sustained well. Director Brad Anderson tries hard; he plants all kinds of clues suggesting some evil is afoot: strange noises, odd behavior, mysterious discoveries. Unfortunately, the threat to the characters is too vaguely defined; there's no immediacy, no urgency to the scenario. Anderson tries to suggest urgency with a cheap ticking-bomb device, portenously flashing the day of the week on screen as we approach the finale, but there's not enough information to suggest what might be in store for everyone. We're left mildly curious, not really gripped.
Session 9 may be too sophisticated for its own good. It is not without intelligence and sincerity; it is not a hackjob. But something is missing, something like that visceral thrill that even the hacks manage to dredge up here and there.
Acting is decent, though if anything there's too much of it; you get tired of watching everybody argue and bitch at one another ad nauseam.Certainly a worthwhile attempt to do something different within the genre, but to paraphrase Bob Seger, I want those old-time horror movies.