You know, I get the sense that the creators of Session 9 found that spooky wheelchair seen in the poster above inside the Danvers Mental Asylum and loved its look so much they made it the central visual motif of the entire film, even though it doesn’t factor into the plot at all.
There’s a habit some documentary filmmakers fall prey to – “falling in love with the access” – wherein the thesis of the documentary ends up taking a backseat to raw information they have at their disposal. A similar thing plagues Session 9, as the real-life Danvers State Mental Hospital – a genuinely creepy and notoriously haunted mental asylum – is where much of the film was shot. They even used trinkets and artifacts left in the abandoned building as some of the film’s props, likely including the aforementioned wheelchair.
As a result, it seems as if the goldmine of a shooting location was meant to compensate for what is, at its center, a rather bland and unsatisfying story. Session 9 is the kind of film that spreads its scares out very, very widely, resulting in an agonizingly slow pace that, while rich with character development, just simply is not all that interesting.
The payoff, which you can tell from frame one is going to involve some kind of a twist (as horror films trading in mental illness ALWAYS do), doesn’t completely justify the protracted buildup. But there are some very nice, atmospheric creepy scenes, and they only made me wish the filmmakers had spent a little less time filming in broad daylight. More brains…