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Better: Black Christmas (1974) or Black Christmas (2006)?

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Black Christmas Vs.

What is the greatest slasher ever made? That is an unanswerable question. We’ve all got our favorites. Without doubt, Black Christmas ranks as a mandatory view for many genre followers. In many ways it’s the original slasher. Prior to 1974 there weren’t too many lunatics targeting, stalking and slashing teenage girls to pieces. But Bob Clark made a major bid to change that, and thanks to a gorgeous seasonal horror film, it happened.

Black Christmas left a significant impression on John Carpenter as well, who would officially kickstart the subgenre four years later with another seasonal offering, Halloween. Since 1978 countless filmmakers have tried their hand at the hack and slash formula. Some have worked quite well (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Scream rank amongst the best) and others have failed. Regardless, they all owe a little tip of the hat to Clark and his Canadian classic.

Black Christmas Vs.

You’re not reading anything you don’t already know. If you’re hanging out on Dread Central, chances are you’re very familiar with the aforementioned pictures, especially Black Christmas. But it’s important to hammer home the bearing of an original piece of art when directly comparing it to a contemporary reimagining. And that’s exactly what we’ve set out to do with this piece. Get down to the nitty gritty and compare, thoroughly, Bob Clark’s film and Glen Morgan’s 2006 rendition of the same story.

  • Original

The story focuses on a sorority house and those living within it during the Christmas holiday. An assorted group of personalities, each young lady brings something unique to the table. Standing center stage within the narrative, Jess (Olivia Hussey) is the strong-willed thinker of the group. If she ever had her head in the sand, it was yanked free long before the events of Black Christmas. Barb (Margot Kidder) is an abrasive alcoholic, Phyl (Andrea Martin) is the loveable nerdy lass and Mrs. Mac (Marian Waldman) is also a colorful boozehound who carries a different load on her shoulders, as she stands in as the sorority house mother. And then there are a handful of other characters to closely examine, like Lt. Ken Fuller (John Saxon), Seargant Nash (Doug McGrath) and Mr. Harrison (James Edmond), all paramount players in the picture.

Everyone’s lives are turned upside down when the phone rings in the sorority house, and what sounds like more than a single lunatic begins spewing offensive remarks. The phone call ends with a simple but staggering statement: “I’m going to kill you.” And those words ring true, as one by one, beginning with the innocent and unassuming Clare Harrison, they’re savagely murdered in the single place they should feel safe, their own home.

Lt. Fuller finds himself in the middle of a massacre (as does Peter, played by the already firmly established Keir Dullea, Jess’ boyfriend and obvious red herring). There isn’t much he can do about obscene phone calls, and given the fact that Billy, the madman who’s making the calls and killing the women, has been hiding their bodies in the house, he takes limited physical action, initially. As far as the surviving ladies are concerned, the girls who aren’t accounted for have simply gone missing, and the situation hasn’t reached dire straights. But that changes in the final act, when a trace produces a shocking revelation: The calls are coming from inside the house, and the girls aren’t just missing.

From this point forward it’s a whirlwind of craziness. The film winds down with a surprise, and Clark leaves viewers completely baffled by the fact that Billy is not brought to justice. Hell, Billy isn’t even ejected from the home. He’s still in the attic, still prepared to continue fulfilling his murderous desires in the future.

  • Standout Scenes

There are a number of memorable scenes in the film. These eight rank as the most memorable, some being downright iconic.

Intro POV Invasion

The film opens with a somewhat mysterious first person point of view. An unknown man scales the sorority house and enters the attic, from there he makes his way into the inner recesses of the home. In a petrifying moment we see (through Billy’s eyes) him standing, watching, just feet from Barb. Within killing distance, no doubt, though that moment will not come for some time. It’s a terribly creepy sequence of events.

The First Call

Moments after breaching the residence Billy makes his first phone call, it begins as a strange affair, but quickly progresses, venturing into perverted territory before ending on a jaw-dropping note. “I’m going to kill you,” he utters in a calm, collected voice. And we know the fate of these young women isn’t promising.

The First Kill

12 minutes into the film Clare is asphyxiated by Billy, who hides in her closet, hidden by plastic clothing covers. It’s a captivating and frightening scene due in most part to its subtlety. It also manages to set a very unforgiving tone, and triggers a recurring visual theme of the film. Clare, with a plastic bag wrapped around her head – her mouth gaping open – is shown numerous times throughout the picture. This is one of the finest death scenes of the film, despite the simplicity.

New Acquaintances

Clare’s father’s meeting with Mrs. Mac is hilarious on too many levels to speak on. It also ignites a serious movement; the search for Clare is precisely what leads to Billy’s discovery. And for the record, the shot focused on the nude peace sign poster is one awesome sliver of cinematic history.

Fellatio

At the 28 minute mark Sargeant Nash becomes the butt of the film’s grandest joke when Barb convinces him ‘Fellatio’ is a part of her telephone number at the sorority house. It’s humor at its finest, and it stretches through a small series of memorable scenes. It’s a fun, uplifting theme that counters the visual theme presented by Clare’s corpse.

A Kidder is Killed

Barb’s death by crystal unicorn is savage. It also symbolizes the end of all female delivered comedic emphasis within the picture. The wise cracker of the bunch and the most prominant personality, is done away with. And her death is just about as astonishing as her personality. Make no mistake, Margot Kidder steals the show handily, and seeing her killed (we do realize it’s inevitable well before it occurs) makes an impact on the viewer.

Internal Call

79 minutes into the film it is learned that the calls are originating from inside the home. An urban legend that’s long haunted the fragile minded is realised on film, and it is truly sensational. It’s the beginning of the final, fast-paced sprint to the credits.

Evil Prevails

After Jess and Peter’s showdown, which results in Peter’s death, we’re briefly led to believe all has been resolved. But it hasn’t, and anyone paying attention has picked up on the fact that Billy and Peter are two entirely different individuals. Not only that but – believe it or not – Billy is still in the house.

Reception

Black Christmas managed to surpass expectations. Released in Canada on October 11, 1974, and landing stateside two months later on December 20, 1974, the movie gained immediate steam. The film took in over $4 million. Subsequent trips to big screens produced more impressive numbers and the movie, shot on a budget of $620,000, more than pleased Ambassador Film Distributors and Warner Brothers (the film’s two primary distributors for Canada and the United States). It was a modest hit with fans (who no doubt also saw terror in the feature’s inspiration, an actual serial killer case in Westmount, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada), but a mixed bag with critics. Some loved it, some hated it. But it was the beginning of something special, and it has gone on to be recognized as one of the greatest independent films ever shot.

  • Remake

Glen Morgan’s remake arrived Stateside on Christmas Day, 2006. Fans weren’t eager to visit cinemas for a new telling of an old Christmas story. It stands to reason that many felt as though they’d already seen the film once, and given the rash of recent disappointing remakes (When a Stranger Calls, The Amityville Horror, The Fog, The Omen and Pulse were all recently released), there was little drive to chance another potential dud. But what’s interesting about the movie is that it isn’t quite as bad as a few of those other remakes (here’s looking at you Pulse, When a Stranger Calls and The Fog) were, and furthermore, it attempted to expand on the original tale.

The crux remains the same. The viewers are once more dropped into a sorority house where the residents are targeted by a lunatic with an affinity for cruel phone calls and attic dwelling. But this time around, there’s a twist in the story and a very obvious attempt at giving Billy a backstory, thus making him more of a character than a symbol. A series of flashback sequences show us the agony the man endured as a boy. And his childhood was indeed agonizing to watch. Essentially disowned by his mother, Billy witnesses the murder of his father – the only bright light in his life – at an early age. He’s also locked away in the attic (an example of the holes being filled, as it explains why the man is so damn comfortable in such a confined space; he’s used to it), abused and severely neglected. It all culminates in the birth of a monster. A monster who, even after growing into a man, cannot shake the pent up rage he’s been forced to carry for the better portion of his life.

Agnes, who had no significance in the original, is another new addition to the story. Agnes is Billy’s little sister… and daughter. She was always favored by mommy dearest, and one day, after being overlooked for years, Billy makes her pay for the attention she’s garnered from their mother. What became of Agnes after Billy murdered their mother and stepfather goes unexplained for the majority of the feature. But the mystery is indeed solved in the fading moments of the film. It’s a major adjustment in narrative, and its success has been lauded and admonished in equal measure. The bulk of viewers hated the spin. But the spin does open a big enough door to make viewers ask themselves (at least it should): Should I judge this film as a remake, or should I judge this film on its own merits and unexpected bravery?

Because it is a brave film. Even if it isn’t a great film.

In a lot of ways, it’s quite similar to Rob Zombie’s initial remake of John Carpenter’s Halloween. Both films utilize the familiar, but they also attempt to humanize the focal villains and explain exactly what drove them to murder. They’re films that have left genre fans on the fence as well.

  • Standout Scenes

Morgan’s picture lacks the signature scenes that Clark’s totes in abundance. However, there are a few moments that are going to really please those with a love of the extreme. Because the picture sure as shit isn’t for the lighthearted.

A Graphic Tone Set Early

While Clark’s big aesthetic theme emphasizes Clare’s plastic-wrapped face, Morgan’s visual morsel comes in the form of removed eyeballs. Megan is one of the film’s earliest victims, and guess what. She has an eye removed after discovering Clair’s (a direct nod to the original) body in the attic. It’s relevant for a few reasons. Not only does it establish the recurring imagery we can anticipate from the flick, it also informs the viewer of just how truly graphic this experience is going to be.

The Return of a Familiar Face

In another tribute to the original movie, Andrea Martin returns, but not to reprise her role as Phyl, but to stand in as the modern day house mother, Mrs. Mac. It’s great to see her back, and it’s nice to see that she’s aged quite well. Knowing her personality has undergone a very radical change is also an interesting point to contemplate.

The Flashback Sequences

While extreme, and even offensive at times, the flashback scenes make for scintillating cinema. Some of the things that Billy is subjected to, including a stunning moment of incestuous conduct, are magnetic in their severity. It’s hard to look away from some of this craziness. But the sequences do explain Billy’s eventual fate, and there’s an unexpected takeaway in those points of disclosure.

Flesh Cookies and Tree Toppers

36 minutes into the film a caged and deranged Billy breaks free of the attic and slaughters his mother and stepfather. He turns mommy’s skin into flesh cookies and calmly eats them, with a nice cold glass of milk. Later in the film, during the final act we see Eve’s severed head placed atop Billy’s own morbid Christmas tree. It’s one hell of a topper.

The End of Anything Classic

The only tangible link between films meets an interesting fate when Mrs. Mac makes an attempt to escape the sorority house and acquire the aid of local law enforcement. But after Heather is killed in the car they’re planning to use to leave, she walks right into inadvertent death via icicle. How strangely appropriate!

All Twisted Up

71 minutes into the flick we learn that it’s not Billy that’s been running through the sorority sisters, it’s actually his sister/daughter, Agnes. Although Billy too shows up intent to shed some blood with his sibling. This is the most notable difference between films, and as odd as it may sound, it kind of works. At least it works in terms of creating something a little bit refreshing.

Reception

We touched down on the picture’s reception briefly already, but we’ll recap. Black Christmas 2006 was almost universally loathed. People absolutely hated it. Not only did the film miss debuting anywhere in the top 5 ranks at the box office, it didn’t even slide in within the top 10. It debuted at number 13 to a pathetic $3.7 million. It barely surpassed a total $20 million worldwide take in its entire theatrical run. The picture has a current score of 14% on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer. IMDb sees the picture carrying an average score of 4.5. These aren’t promising figures. But for all the unabashed hatred the pic has earned over the last eight years, it’s performed fairly well on discs. In fact, Morgan’s film has cleared a solid $10 million more with home video sales than theatrical. It seems, despite the consensus disdain, there are a lot of people out there interested in owning the feature.

  • The Ultimate Verdict

There is no question (at least not in this mind) that Clark’s original is significantly superior to Morgan’s remake. The tension is palpable, the cast is stellar and all the terror left to the imagination exclusively is fantastic. It’s the kind of movie that makes you think all the while wrapping you up in a believable web of dread. The dialogue is amazing, the characters are quite memorable and the grainy picture carries with it a wonderful sense of nostalgia. It feels like a classic picture, and it does indeed deliver on scares. Morgan’s film, in contrast, suffers from poor decision-making and conflicting character practice. No one is genuinely illuminated as a heroine either. For a reasonable portion of the film Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character, Heather, looks to be the final girl, until she bites the big one. Katie Cassidy isn’t a terrible performer by any stretch, but her character, Kelli, is forced to partake in some seriously illogical actions. There isn’t much that Cassidy can do about that, and that’s unfortunate, as it completely kills any hopes of her winning over viewers. It’s an awful character and exists in stark contrast to the very likeable and level-headed Jess of the original.

And yet for all of the qualities that the original boasts and the remake lacks, what Morgan’s film can accurately lay claim to is existing as a stronger visual film and a satiating morsel of a movie for those who love gore. It’s a vicious piece of work, but those beautiful, vibrant colors are stunning. It looks more like an actual Christmas movie than half of the Christmas movies out there, genre classification be damned. And on a brainless level, there’s fun to be had in Morgan’s movie. There really is. Close the critical eye and allow yourself to be pulled into the current of an animalistic tidal wave, and you could find yourself entertained. But you won’t forget which rendition of Black Christmas is the true winner.

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What’s Next? 5 Horror Trends We Expect Within 5 Years

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Recently I penned an article based on the last Decade of Horror. In said post, I delved into the top three films of each year spanning 2010 – 2017 and attempted to decipher what the trends were throughout our decade thus far.

To say the least, the article was insightful to write up. Witnessing trends ebb and flow and analyzing what floats to the surface time and time again was a fascinating project to take on.

With that knowledge now in my big, bald noggin, I thought it would be interesting to dive a bit into what I believe will be the “Next Big Thing” in horror. We’ve seen found footage. We’ve seen 3-D. We’ve seen it all, right? Not so much.

So here are five trends I expect to see in horror over the next five years.

Enjoy!

***


Black & White & Red All Over

The resurgence of black & white films. This is the one I can all but guarantee is on the horizon and it is going to hit in a big, bad way in the very near future. Black and white creates atmosphere in spades, and it doesn’t cost any extra money.

With films like The Eyes of My Mother and A Girl Walks Home at Night bringing the “old-fashioned” technique back to the forefront of independent cinema – and the recent killer episode of “Black Mirror: Metalhead” directed by David Slade – I believe, like cinema tends to do, there will be a step back towards a more classic era of filmmaking. And black and white horror films will be at the head of that new reverse-renaissance. Mark my words.

Netflix of Horror

A horror streaming giant will rise. Bank on it. While Shudder appears to be the frontrunner, they have yet to become a household name. Unfortunately, I think this is due to too many obscure titles. I love Shudder don’t get me wrong – and I’ve kept my subscription going for several years (as I’m sure you have) – but that said, they seem to be too concerned with horror street cred than pulling in the mainstream crowd.

That’s, of course, not a bad thing, but throw some bullshit teen horror on there and get your subscription numbers up, and Shudder will become the top spot for horror (of all kinds) on these here internets… or continue to be cool and fade away. Make your choice. Again, nothing but love, Shudder. I’d just like to see you become the Netflix of Horror you deserve to be. Someone’s going to take the title soon. I only hope it’s you.

Drone Footage

This is just what it sounds like: movies shot almost exclusively with drones. More and more low-budget filmmakers are employing drones to stunning effect, and it is only a matter of time before someone says “F*ck it” and shoots a flick completely with a drone.

And I’m not talking about found footage here by the way. I’m talking about a movie that breaks down the walls of what we call typical coverage in a film – horror or not. But considering horror is always at the forefront of innovation in the world of cinema, I think drone movies will begin in the horror genre. No more steady-cams, no more cranes, tripods, helicopters, or dolly tracks. Imagine sweeping camera moves of not only landscapes but intimated conversations as well.

Imagine we’re close on someone’s eyes, then we pull out into an over-the-shoulder, then we begin to steady-cam around them as they kiss (or kill, whatever) and then we pull back higher and higher into a glorious wide of the sun setting behind the trees. Shots like this weren’t possible (on a low budget) before drones. Get creative. Forget the rules of coverage (other than the 180 rule) and push cinema to new heights.

That said, I concede that such dialogue scenes will need to be dubbed and shadows/reflections caused by the camera will need to be monitored closely, but these are already the issues any filmmaker takes on when making a flick. One day we will get epic drone films, and they are going to be low-budget stunning on the level of mega-budget movies ala Dunkirk. I cannot wait.

Fan Films

Sooner or later all of us fans are going to get sick and tired of waiting for someone at the major studios to get off the butts and make another entry in the TCM, Friday the 13th, NOES series. With technology what it is nowadays people are going to just start making them themselves. They’ll be putting real time and effort into these films as calling cards, and they might even break the studio system this way.

Hell, we’ve already seen the start with such quality flick as the Friday the 13th fan film Never Hike Alone. And I see no reason that the films couldn’t end up being ballsier and better than anything a studio could put out.

But they can’t make money. True. But again they will function as calling cards for future filmmakers. And have you ever seen how expensive film school is? Yikes. Better to slap a hockey mask and a GoPro to your dumbass friend Brian and have him chase your little sister around the backyard. Just work your way up from there.

One-Month Movies

One-Month Movies. Or Flash Flicks. Or something like that. It’s an appealing gimmick to be sure. Filmmakers will begin making movies for all intents and purposes as fast as they possibly can. Pure creativity without overthinking the final product.

Scary prospect. But a thrilling one as well. I know I’d be up for watching what filmmakers like Adam Wingard, Mike Flanagan, and hell maybe even John Carpenter could come up within one month’s time. It’s like DIY king Robert Rodriguez once said (and I’m paraphrasing here) digital filmmaking is like a painting; you can just begin and let the mood and inspiration take over.

These “One-Month Movies” will be exciting and fresh… or utter disasters. Either way, they will be worth watching. But these films will need a platform for their releases. And once the Netflix of Horror I described above comes to grandiose fruition, then we will be seeing these films more and more. At least I hope.

***

And those are the 5 horror trends I expect to see over the next 5 years. Do you agree? Is there something you think I’ve left out? Let us know below!

Until then give the video below a quick watch. It’s simple and amateur but the (no doubt kids) behind the video have the right idea. Drones plus black & white footage, plus the score to The Shining creates killer atmosphere. Just wish the framing was a bit better. All the same, there are moments in the video that will sell these ideas to you instantly.

Enjoy?

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Brennan Went To Film School

Brennan Went to Film School: Unlocking the Hidden Meaning in Insidious: The Last Key

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“Brennan Went to Film School” is a column that proves that horror has just as much to say about the world as your average Oscar nominee. Probably more, if we’re being honest.

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS DETAILED SPOILERS FOR INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

Blumhouse had quite a year last year, didn’t they? In addition to having three number one hits on their hands, the racial satire Get Out is their first horror entry to get awards traction thanks to its deeper themes. Now that everyone is starting to take the company and its work a little more seriously, it’s time to bring out the big guns and dive right into some deeper analysis into a much more unlikely subject: Insidious: The Last Key. The fourth entry in their tentpole haunted house franchise might not seem like it at first glance, but it’s the Get Out of the Me Too era, telling a story of women’s struggles while predicting the downfall of powerful, abusive men that started to occur during its production process with eerie accuracy.

No, seriously. Let’s start by taking a look at the villain. Unusually for this franchise, the baddies are both paranormal and human: halfway through the film it is revealed that the haunting victim who has called Lin Shaye’s Elise and her crew is also a sadistic killer who has chained up a woman in his basement. This is also revealed to be the very same thing Elise’s father did many decades before. The film implies that both men are being influenced by the key-wielding demon that inhabits the house.

Key imagery is very important to the film as a whole (I mean come on, it’s literally in the freakin’ title) and its themes of Elise arriving to her childhood home to unlock the secrets of her past. But there’s more than one meaning to that imagery, and understanding those meanings is the key to unlocking the subtext of the film, if you’ll allow me a really obvious pun.


The demon KeyFace might be influencing the men, but they’re still receptive to the idea. That’s because he’s awakening something that was already inside them. KeyFace represents the pure male id; the unconscious, animalistic desires and drives that lay buried in the psyche. He’s not forcing them to behave in this way, he’s just unlocking their darker impulses.

It’s no coincidence that the demon’s lair is the bomb shelter basement. The house has now become a road map of her father’s mind, with his strongest emotions (and the literal place where he keeps his abused women secreted away) hidden in a sublevel that isn’t visible from the surface. This is the very same basement where he locked up Elise while punishing her for insisting that her visions were real. He wanted her to keep her psychic gifts locked away, probably so she wouldn’t discover his own submerged secrets.

Elise encounters a variety of keys during her journey that allow her to penetrate deeper and deeper into The Further, the house, her past, and the hideous truth about the men in her life. These keys unlock doors, suitcases, chains, and cages, but the most important unlocks the truth… and turns the attention of the evil upon her and her two nieces.

The probing of these women ignites the fury of KeyFace and he takes her niece Melissa into the basement (another buried sublevel that must be unlocked), inserting a key into her neck and rendering her mute, then stealing her soul with a second key plunged into her heart. He is only vanquished when Elise and her other niece Imogen team together and use a family heirloom – a whistle – to summon Elise’s mother’s spirit.

On the surface, this seems like an inspiring story of three generations of women helping each other to face a great evil. This is certainly true, but now we have the key to understanding exactly what’s happening here. When a young woman discovers the abuse being perpetrated in her house, the figure of pure, wicked male desire literally steals her voice, silencing her. In order to restore that voice, another woman who knows the truth must very literally become a whistleblower.

…Did I just blow your mind?

At its heart, Insidious: The Last Key presents a world where women must rely on other women to provide them a voice and their very survival in a world dominated by powerful men and their ugly, dirty secrets. Secrets that they will do anything to keep locked away. There may be slightly more ghosts in Insidious than in real life, but that’s a frighteningly close parallel with the ugliness currently being revealed in Hollywood – as well as the world at large. It probably won’t tear up the Golden Globes next year, but this film is just the next important stepping-stone after Get Out in Blumhouse’s use of the genre to dig deep into the real life horrors plaguing our society.


Brennan Klein is a writer and podcaster who talks horror movies every chance he gets. And when you’re talking to him about something else, he’s probably thinking about horror movies. On his blog, Popcorn Culture, he is running through reviews of every slasher film of the 1980’s, and on his podcast, Scream 101, he and a non-horror nerd co-host tackle horror reviews with a new sub-genre every month!


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Why Brad Anderson’s Session 9 Scared the Hell Out of Me

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“Hello, Gordon.”

Invariably, working for sites such as Dread Central, I am always asked the question, “What is the scariest movie you have ever seen?” And, well, truth be told, movies don’t tend to scare me that often. Sure, there are my go-to flicks time and time again such as The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and Lake Mungo. But sure enough, every time I spout out that list to a fellow horror fan, they always follow up with, “Well, what is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen that ISN’T found footage?” Fair enough question.

Now, while I’m not going to go into what I consider to be the scariest non-found footage horror movies (we’ll get into all of that at some later date), I do want to point out a movie in particular here today. The way it goes is that when I tell people my list of scariest non-found footage films, they always nod in agreement. Until, that is, I get to a film called Session 9. It is at that point that whomever I am talking to cocks their head to the side and says, “I’ve never heard of that one.” Which is a shame, and it happens far too often. So today I want to, yet again, give anyone and everyone who’s willing to listen the recommend.

Let’s begin with a quick rundown of the film. Session 9 was written and directed by Brad Anderson, who is a name you might recognize as the creative force behind such films as The Vanishing on 7th Street, Transsiberian, and the “Christian Bale is as skinny as a skeleton” mindfuck The Machinist.

But as good as those film may (or may not) be, without a doubt Anderson’s masterpiece is Session 9. Written specifically to be filmed inside the Danvers State Mental Hospital, the film stars David Caruso (don’t let that stop you), Peter Mullan, Josh Lucas, and a few other gents as a group of asbestos removal guys who are possibly haunted within the walls of the institute while on a job.

If that rundown isn’t the best, here is the film’s official synopsis: “A tale of terror when a group of asbestos removal workers starts work in an abandoned insane asylum. The complex of buildings looms up out of the woods like a dormant beast. Grand, imposing…abandoned, deteriorating. The residents of Danvers, Massachusetts, steer well clear of the place. But Danvers State Mental Hospital closed down for 15 years is about to receive five new visitors…”

Brrr… freaky enough, right? Well, trust me; the actual film is leaps and bounds better than even that creeper synopsis lets on. And best of all, with all horror and terror aside, the film is a tight flick about a group of men and how they interact as a team. While that may not sound too appealing, the actors – yes, even David Caruso – make for a lovable group of grumps that I enjoyed spending 90 minutes with.

Let’s talk about the horror for a second. You have to wait until the end, but once it hits (full force), it is well worth the wait. The first two thirds of the film is creepy but mostly about the men and the job. Horror looms in the background at all times, sure, but it isn’t until the final act that the shit really hits the fan. And boy, does it. The final act is as bloody as any slasher you could ever hope for and even features a fun, very cool cameo by Mr. Larry Fessenden himself. But it is the final, give or take, 30 seconds of the film that still haunts me to this day.

You see, the film is constantly playing a game of “Is it ghosts? Is it all in your head? Or is there a human element to the horror?” And that game comes to nightmarish reality in the film’s final moments. I specifically remember having fun with the film until its last frames. That was when I needed to turn the lights on. But that still didn’t help. The horrors that Session 9 presents in its final moments are horrors where there is nowhere to run, no way to prevent it from finding you in the darkness, and no way to save yourself, or your loved ones, if it finds you.

“I live in the weak and the wounded.”

Being that I am prone to being one of those dudes that lets shit bottle up inside until I explode (sad but true), this film is fucking terrifying to me. I get it. I fear it. And I hope you will too. As kids, we need cautionary tales, and let’s not forget that we as adults do too sometimes. Session 9 is a warning for grown-ups. You almost deserve it for yourself and your loved ones to see this film and allow it to sink in. Just don’t expect to sleep for a few nights…

In the end, why did Session 9 scare the hell out me so bad? Was it that voice that haunts my dreams to this day, or was it what the voice says? I’m still not sure. But trust me when I say that Brad Anderson’s Session 9 is one of the absolute scariest films I have ever seen. If you haven’t given the film its day in court yet, remedy that ASAP and thank me (or hate me) later.

You can buy Session 9 on Blu-ray HERE. And while you’re at it, make sure to check out Villmark Asylum (a similar film to Session 9) now on VOD.

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