Writer/director Brad Anderson, known for the charming indie romantic comedy Next Stop, Wonderland, found his inspiration for Session 9 in the hulking presence of the abandoned Danvers Mental Hospital in Massachusetts. He and Stephen Gevedon (who also stars as Mike) wrote the script to fit the creepy locale. It's a wonderfully bizarre and eerie place. Unfortunately, the character of the building is easily the most compelling thing about the film. Anderson begins with a promising premise. Gordon Fleming (Peter Mullan) and his crew have a contract to clear all the asbestos out of the scary building in one week. From the moment they enter the place, its disturbing past begins to worm its way under their skins. Like the three filmmakers entering the woods in The Blair Witch Project, the crew is aware of the place's frightening history, but naïve as to the effect it will have on them. It's a decent setup for a horror film, and Anderson's cast, especially Mullan, is more than up to the task. As Anderson focuses on the crumbling walls and waterlogged floors of the hospital, strewn with debris, there's a surfeit of spooky atmosphere. The film does has a narrative drive to it, fostering the illusion that, despite occasional contrivances along the way, it is actually going somewhere. As each of the crew splits off to pursue a private interest in the building (including Hank (Josh Lucas), saddled with the hoary chestnut of the "treasure hidden in the walls" of the hospital), it becomes more clear that Anderson is toying with the audience, throwing out one red herring after another in an effort to put off revealing the true mystery. There's some suspense, but when the payoff finally comes, it is disappointingly unconvincing.
by Josh Ralske review