Session 9 title

Tag line : Fear is a Place

Session 9One of the more interesting films to emerge from 2001 was this psychological horror from director Brad Anderson. Set in an old insane asylum in Massachusetts, the city council have hired an asbestos removal firm to clear the site prior to the builders starting renovation works.

Overwhelmed by the huge task in hand, but enticed by the lure of a huge bonus if they finish the job on time, the small group eagerly get to work. Even though they all feel a little uneasy about the old building.

Then one day, one of the crew, Mike (Stephen Gevedon), discovers a box of old tapes in the basement. Listening to the contents, they appear to be the psychiatric sessions of a woman named Mary, who's suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder, and who apparently committed several crimes whilst believing herself to be one of the characters from her mind, named Simon.

With Mike sneaking off at every opportunity to listen to the tapes and the rest of the work force running behind on the job, tempers start to fray and cracks begin to develop in the groups working relationship. Matters are not helped by the temperamental power supply, which keeps tripping out. Gordon (Peter Mullan), who owns the firm, not being able to run the job properly due to problems at home. Phil (played by a pre-CSI David Caruso) constantly trying to take over and run the job his way, and Hank (Josh Lucas) continually squabbling with Phil over a former girlfriend.

Strangely, the more Mike listens to the tapes, which get progressively sinister with each session, the more weird things start occurring, causing tempers to rise further. The crew also becomes convinced that someone else is watching them, as strange shadows can be glimpsed at times and strange sounds can be heard in vacant parts of the building.

As it is, they are already aware that the place has a notorious history, which is what caused it to close during the 1980s. But the longer the job goes on, the more convinced they become that something isn't right. Is it just a combination of stress and working in that environment that's causing the group to fall apart, or have the tapes unleashed something more sinister?

Tense, chilling, and very atmospheric, this is an excellent piece of psychological horror, which I'm surprised didn't get a wider release, having gone straight to DVD everywhere outside of the US. The use of a genuine, derelict asylum really added to the feel of the film, and it was interesting seeing David Caruso in a pre-CSI role.

Definitely one for people who prefer atmospheric chills, as opposed to blood and guts (being virtually blood free). If you haven't seen this one, then you should do so.

Overall Marks : 6/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • One of David Caruso's final film roles before landing the role of Horatio Cane  in the popular US TV show "CSI : Miami".

  • The films budget was $1,500,000.

  • Filmed at the former Danvers Mental Hospital in Massachusetts, which had closed in 1992. This building was also apparently the inspiration for horror writer HP Lovecraft's Arkham Asylum in the story "The Thing on the Doorstep", which in turn was the inspiration for the Arkham Asylum in the Batman comics. The building was mostly demolished by developers in 2006, and turned into flats with only the front facade of the former main block staying intact.

  • The role of Mike was played by the films scriptwriter, Stephen Gevedon.

  • With 3 minor exceptions, all the rooms they filmed in were dressed up just using stuff found around the old Hospital. The only items they had to bring in from outside were meathooks for the kitchen, surgical gloves for the basement and a metal bath for the old hydrotherapy room. Everything else seen in the film was found on site.

  • Brad Anderson wanted to make the film at the Danvers Hospital as he used to drive past it every morning and thought it looked sufficiently creepy.

  • There was originally a sub-plot about a former mental patient, who was now sleeping rough in one of the rooms, spying on them whilst they worked. But this was removed from the final cut of the film. This was meant to be the explanation for why they kept thinking there was someone else in the building and why they kept hearing strange noises, which was never fully explained in the finished cut. These scenes can be found as extras on the DVD.

  • The "Patricia Willard Scandal" that Mike (Stephen Gevedon) mentions at the start of the film appears to be based on a series of real life accusations that happened at various institutions in the US during the early 80s involving Satanism and sex abuse (which were later proved unfounded).

  • Despite the building's relative size, the film makers only filmed in a very small portion of it. Mostly in the former main admin building (known as the Kirkbride complex), as the rest of the building was extremely unsafe to work in.

Extra Info.

Cast & Crew.




Buy Online.

Buy online at

Buy the UK DVD

Buy it at Amazon.Com

Buy the US DVD

Notes on affiliate sites.


Reviews A-Z.

Reviews index. Home. Menu.