Almost Famous; “Session 9”

The only horror movie you’ll ever need to see.

In a secluded spot off Interstate 95 just north of Boston lies a very mysterious gothic building. It resides on 500 acres of state property, complete with its own cemetery. With over a hundred years of history, this building has grown to be a horror fan’s wet dream. This building is the Danvers State Insane Asylum.

Abandoned for over 15 years, the asylum used to hold over two thousand mental patients, even though it was built for 650. This building, built in 1874, held the most advanced research on the insane. Various rumors have spread about the institution. Many say that Danvers was where the practice of lobotomy was perfected. Some say that cruel and unusual experiments were performed on patients. And there are those who say its previous occupants haunt the building. Whatever people say, there is one definite truth: Danvers State Insane Asylum has a dark history.

During the late 17th century, an intense paranoia plagued a town in Massachusetts. Shouts of “Witchcraft!” flew through Salem Village, which eventually became the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. What many people don’t know is that the witchcraft hysteria started in Salem Village (present day Danvers), not in Salem itself.

Once the accusations of witchcraft grew, the proceedings moved to Salem, Massachusetts, where most serious court cases of Essex County were held. Several of the participants in the hearings had direct ties to the Danvers building property. The mother of an accuser used to live on the Asylum’s grounds, as did Jonathan Hathorne, one of the more fanatical judges of the Salem witch trials. This is why the Danvers Asylum was dubbed “Witch’s Castle.”

In 2000, this building became the center of Brad Anderson‘s psychological horror “Session 9” (the first movie filmed with high-definition cameras — take that, Lucas!). The building is key to the film, not just for its eerie past but because of its gothic architecture, mammoth size, and its dark underbelly.


Peter Mullan and David Caruso lead a team of asbestos cleaners on an assignment to the Danvers State Insane Asylum. Hired to clean up the entire seven-acre building in a week, Caruso and Mullan work diligently within the asylum to reach their goal. But their job hits a roadblock when a team member stumbles upon an old collection of recorded interviews between a mental patient and her doctor.

Difficulties ensue as a member of the team vanishes without a trace. Danver’s dark innards and the mystery of nine recorded sessions with a mental patient bring out paranoia, deceit, and inner demons.

Major Characters:

Gordon Fleming (played by Peter Mullan): the leader of the asbestos crew assigned to clean up Danvers for renovation. The pressure is on because he needs to finish this daunting task in just a week. He is desperate for money because life at home is under financial hardship due to his newborn son.

Phil (David Caruso): Gordon’s best friend and partner in the crew. Yeah! David Caruso’s doing something!

Mary Hobbes (voiced by Jurian Hughes): Freeeeeeeaaaaaaky!

Memorable Movie Quote:

David Caruso delivers the best “Fuck you!” in movie history. It comes complete with a dramatic close-up and over-expression. You’ll love it.

Why You’ll Like This Movie:

  • Experiencing fear through darkness and subtlety: Brad Anderson brings you inside the frightening and empty halls of the Danvers Asylum. He can scare you by showing less rather than more. Anderson’s portrayal of each team member venturing within Danvers gives the audience a whole array of fears. You get the feeling of being inside an underground lit tunnel suddenly going black, the fear of seeing something move in the background and vanishing at the blink of an eye, and that intense panic of looking into a dark room thinking somebody is inside.
  • Mary Hobbes’ voice overlapping many intense scenes gives the audience a sense of the disturbing past that is the Danvers State Insane Asylum.
  • The clear, detailed visuals brought on by high-definition camera mixed with natural lighting makes an excellent contrast of Hollywood technology and classic cinematography. A dark room with a dead pigeon inside has never been crisper on screen.
  • À la “The Shining,” this movie shows the intensity of being inside a quiet, abandoned facility.
  • David Caruso’s making a comeback!

Final Thought:

This is what my friends thought of “Session 9”:

“David Caruso’s fiery red hair made me love cinema again.”
Mike Braja

“This movie left my ass quivering with liquid fear.”
Weston Berg

Okay, that might not have been insightful, but nonetheless they are still good quotes about “Session 9.” It is truly a frightening experience to watch this movie. I actually had a nightmare because of it! And I never have nightmares! My dreams are filled with nothing but Krispy Kremes and Katie Holmes.

That night after watching this movie with friends, I went to sleep. Suddenly, I’m peering inside the classroom of a public high school. There are about twenty students in the class and the window is closed on this fine sunny day. I’m watching this young girl give a report on Jesus and Christianity.

Suddenly, the classroom experiences a gust of wind (keep in mind the windows are closed) and papers are flying everywhere. Students are in a panic, trying to grab hold of their books and papers. After a couple minutes of this unexplainable surge, the wind dies down and the books and papers fall to the floor.

But all the students are left in shock and fear after they look down. The books and papers fell in a formation that spells “666.” Then Steven Harper and Scott Gruber (Chi McBride and Anthony Heald from “Boston Public”) enter the room to investigate.

Yeah, I told you this movie is freaky. After you rent this, make sure you stop by the grocery store and pick up a bag of diapers.

Article © 2002 by Rob Roan