Thursday, October 30

Celluloid spookiness

I've probably left it too late to recommend a creepy, atmospheric horror film for you to tuck into late tomorrow night - or any night - but I'll recommend one anyway.
Made in 2001 by Brad Anderson (who would go on to deliver the excellent Christian Bale film The Machinist) Session 9 is a delicious piece of disturbing, understated, lingering horror that is set (and was actually shot) in the abandoned Danvers Mental Hospital just outside Boston.
The plot sees grizzled, walnut-faced Scottish actor Peter Mullan as the manager of a group of asbestos removal men, hired to tackle the chillingly Shining-esque structure and remove the asbestos within before a major renovation.
His small gang of workers begin the job in the looming, spooky hallways and abandoned rooms of some 'extreme' forms of therapy and, typically, things start to get a little crazy following the discovery of recordings revealing the 'recovered memory' treatment of a patient long ago...
This is a gem of a movie that, on paper (or computer) reads like it has been done to death but thanks to Anderson's guidance, the beautiful cinematography of Uta Briesewitz, and an excellent cast, of perhaps slightly under-written characters, in which Mullan, Josh Lucas and even David Caruso shine, the end result becomes a slowly building crescendo of dread, the subsequent piecing together of a horrible story and an ambiguous last act that should have taught (but didn't) a multitude of horror directors in the last 7 or 8 years how to actually construct a proper chiller with a brain and no laughs.
If you liked The Others or the recent Guillermo Del Toro-produced El Orfanato (The Orphanage) then Session 9 should appeal to you too. Happy Halloween.


Anonymous said...

Brown cover? or am I invertantly cross referencing with The Pledge in my recovered memory?

Anonymous said...

Aye, that's the one. My recommendation for many years to the dribbling masses

mp3hugger said...

Flippin brill, thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

Hugger - I think it was on Sci Fi channel, by pure coincidence, a few nights ago. Or did ya manage to rent it?