The name Session 9 refers to 9 tape recorded sessions of Mary Hobbes, a patient at the abandoned Danvers State Hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts, who suffered from dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personalities.
The film starts with the Hazmat Elimination Company winning the bid for the job of removing all the asbestos from this abandoned hospital. Five guys, Phil, Gordon, Mike, Hank and Jeff set out to complete it in only one week to gain a $10,000 bonus, which is a make or break deal for the owner, Phil, who will have to close up shop if they don’t succeed.
Filmed at the actual abandoned Danvers State Hospital location, the building and location bring most of the initial tension throughout the first half. Most of the props and elements used throughout the film existed at the Bonner Medical Building there on the campus before shooting began. Even the soundtrack by Climax Golden Twins does many wonders to add suspense when the story has yet to evolve enough to bring its own.
As work continues in the hospital, Mike stumbles across a box marked “Evidence”. Sparking his curiosity, he pulls out the tapes and starts listening to them on an old reel-to-reel system. They are for former patient number 444, Mary Hobbes, and as Mike listens he hears stories told by Mary, and others by two of her personalities, a young and innocent Princess, and an overly protective Billy. Both personalities mention someone named Simon, but they do not like talking about him.
Quirks exists in all the workers, from severe nyctophobia in Jeff, Phil smoking marijuana after losing his girlfriend to Hank, and Hank himself filled with dreams of quitting his job and running a casino. Gordon opens up privately to Phil that he, in a fit of rage, hit his wife and he is very depressed by this, currently staying in a motel. Several times Gordon makes phone calls to his wife asking for forgiveness.
The suspense kicks up when Hank comes across a stash of Morgan Dollars within a hole in a hall, apparently from a cremation that took place. He returns later that evening to steal them and is ambushed by an unseen assailant. With Hanks disappearance, Gordon begins to suspect Phil is behind it as he had wanted to fire Hank earlier, basically calling him unreliable, as well as the fact that Hank stole his girlfriend and loves to tease Phil about it; however Phil is adamant he ran off to Miami to a casino.
Work continues for some time and later Jeff sees Hank in an upper floor, facing a wall with possible blood on his hands. He runs down to let everyone know causing everyone to separate out in hopes of finding him, since naturally he is not where Jeff saw him and now they are determined to find him.
The ending took me two viewings to understand, it was not readily apparent at first since it relies on flashbacks and your ability to put together a chain of events in proper order to make sense of it all.
For a movie with no gore at all, relying on atmosphere mostly, it makes for a great example of horror but does have to rely heavily on soundtrack and scenery to accomplish it, as the acting does not always get you there. There are no startles, no real jump scenes to speak of. If you are not focused on being immersed into the film, or the volumes too low it may not do a lot towards scaring you. I dare say if you are watching the film while doing household chores, it may appear to be a movie about nothing but asbestos work, so do not do that, as you would be losing all of this films purpose. Phil (David Caruso) and Mike (Stephen Gavedon) do the best acting jobs but all were believable in their roles. This film was directed by Brad Anderson, who can also be seen on Showtime’s Masters of Horror series.
The last personality of Mary, Simon, is a protective (or destructive, take your pick) entity within the building itself. Just as Mary killed her brother and her family, it has taken up residence inside Gordon. One of the flashbacks is Gordon, not calling his wife to ask for forgiveness for hitting her, but killing her. He proceeds to hunt each member of the crew down one at a time while they are all out looking for Hank, phasing in and out of his psychosis, one minute thinking Phil has killed Hank, the next killing Phil himself over Hank’s body he previously killed. The film ends with Simon, on the 9th taped session of Mary, answering the question of where he lives with the answer “I live in the weak and wounded, Doc.”