I wish I remembered how I stumbled on SESSION 9, but I don’t. It feels like it’s always been there, Delbert Grady in my internal movie line-up. I get inexplicable cravings to watch it, a couple times a year at least. It’s not a movie that comforts me, but there are moments of it that live in my brain parasitically, and the only way to soothe the beast once it starts gnashing its teeth is to put SESSION 9 directly in front of my eyeballs and let it wash over me like a cloud of asbestos fibers.
If you asked me how I feel about it, I’d emphatically tell you I love SESSION 9 and all those involved with it. I love how simple and effective every aspect of it is. I love how its few jokes are so bleak that even as they land, you’re still on the path to Hell. I love that it exists in a moment that feels extinct; with printed photos and face-sized cell phones. I love that it was shot not too far from where I type right now, in a defunct mental hospital that plays itself in the movie, a character as important as the other five leads. What I might love most of all is how it digests even better with repeated viewings. Like taking your sunglasses off when you go inside, the little details get sharper once some light is thrown on them.
Women say that you forget the pain of childbirth once you’re holding the baby, and you won’t remember it until you have another child. I call bullshit on that for many reasons, but the analogy works here. I rewatched SESSION 9 for this piece. I didn’t have to, but again: gnawing. It was about fifteen minutes or so from the end credits that I realized…maybe I hate this movie. I love everything about it that I said above and so many more things, but right before the movie ends it makes me feel — physically feel — so disturbed and uncomfortable and just plain bad. Knots in my chest, skin itchy wrong.
I forget that awful discomfort every time I start it. I settle in grinning. A little while in, I start to wince. Then, like the coppery smell of blood and the gleam of a orbitoclast, once I remember the details, the sinking feeling, I can’t believe I ever forgot it.
Watch SESSION 9. Go in blind. Then tell me how much you hate it too.