‘Session 9’ (2001) follows a very simple story where a group of asbestos cleaners is asked to disinfect an old, abandoned mental hospital. With what follows, one of the leading crew members of the group, Gordon, descends into a seemingly supernatural-infused madness. ‘Session 9’ isn’t your typical horror movie. For the most part, it draws its scares from the complexity and interactions of its characters. Although it is very well-constructed, the complications in its premise can be hard to comprehend, especially only after a single viewing experience. So we’ll be breaking down the entire movie in the article below, with not just one, but several theories.
Session 9 Explained
Mike, who is one of the smartest crew members, discovers an old records room in the basement of the hospital. In the room, he finds the tape records of a patient named Mary who suffered from multiple personality disorder. The box that contains her tapes is labeled with the names of all four of her personalities—Mary, Princess, Billy, and Simon. Throughout the movie’s runtime, as Mike plays each of the nine tapes from Mary’s box, he gets a glimpse of all of Mary’s personalities, except for one—Simon. In the tapes, Mary’s personalities keep shifting between her true self, Princess, and Billy, but every time her doctor brings up Simon, she refuses to wake him up. The Simon side of Mary’s personality only shows up in the final tape, which was Mary’s “Session 9” with the doctor. While Mary’s other two personalities are just mere plot devices for the movie, Simon becomes a significant part of the movie’s premise.
Mary’s Hauntings, Explained
In the opening scene of the movie, Gordon expresses how stressed he and his wife have been feeling lately because of their newborn baby. This is when the movie first gives you a glimpse of the downward spiral in which Gordon is potentially heading in. Moments after this, Mike and Gordon enter the mental hospital for the first time and are given a brief tour of it by a security guard. When they head down to the dark underground tunnels of the facility, Gordon spots a wheelchair from a distance and that’s when he hears a voice in his head that says “Hello Gordon.” It’s this scene that marks the inception of Gordon’s descent into madness and it also shows how Mary’s specter has now taken over Gordon’s mind.
Later on in the film, there are several “coincidental moments” that somehow bring the lives of the asbestos removal workers in tandem with Mary and her personalities. One of these incidents is, of course, Gordon’s experience when he first sees Mary’s wheelchair in the corridor. Right after this, when Mike and Gordon head deeper into tunnels of the hospital with the guard, for some strange reason, Gordon tries to lead the way as if he’s already well-versed with the geography of the huge hospital. This scene clearly shows that Mary is now somewhere in the back of his head. The next is Mike’s experience with the hospital’s tapes. Almost coincidentally, Mike ends up finding the room where the hospital keeps all of its old records and patient interview tapes. And what’s even stranger is the fact that out of all the hundreds of tapes in the room, Mike is only drawn to Mary’s box of tapes.
Other similar coincidences are sporadically distributed throughout the film wherein one of them also shows Gordon sitting on top of Mary’s grave which has 444, Mary’s number, inscribed on it. With all of these seemingly eerie cosmic coincidences, it seems like the entire hospital is nothing but a manifestation of Mary’s many different personalities. And if you’ll watch closely, you’ll realize that as the film progresses, each character almost becomes one of Mary’s personalities. Mary isn’t just your typical ghostly poltergeist but is actually a “presence” that looms over the entire hospital.
Did Gordon Kill his Wife and Daughter?
When Gordon’s first day at the hospital ends, he heads back home with a bouquet of flowers for his wife. When he gets home, he watches his wife and daughter from a distance and then stares at a steaming pot of pasta that rests on his home’s stove. Throughout the film, Gordon can be seen reliving this exact moment until one day, he reveals it to Mike that he hit his wife. He tells him that after their first day at the hospital when he went back home, his wife accidentally dropped a steaming vessel of pasta on his leg. That’s when he completely lost his temper and slapped her.
Later on in the movie, there’s a scene where Mike finds a bouquet of flowers thrown in the corner of a room in the hospital. This bouquet is the same one that Gordon had carried home to his wife on the first day. Much later in the movie, it is revealed that Gordon did not only slap his wife that day but killed her and his baby after she dropped the vessel of pasta on his leg. The scenes later on in the movie where he keeps pretending that he’s talking to his wife on the phone are simply a reflection of his guilt.
Why did Gordon kill his wife, you might ask? This itself can have two explanations. As I’ve mentioned earlier, from the beginning of the movie itself, Gordon seemed to be very unhappy and stressed out because of his baby. This, along with the stress of his work piles-up on him and drives him nuts. The mental breakdown he experiences because of all this makes him lash out on his wife. However, in some ways, this theory demeans all the other supernatural plot points surrounding Mary and her manifestations in the hospital.
Hank’s Mysterious Disappearance
Midway through the movie’s runtime, one of the crew members named Hank finds a small crack in one of the walls of the hospital. When his curiosity gets the best of him and he puts his hand inside the crack, he discovers a number of coins, gold teeth, silver lobotomy instruments, and even eyes balls inside it. Although he does not realize this, he gets all these objects out of the furnace where patients were previously burnt. Soon after this, as Hank attempts to sneak out of the hospital with all the gold and silver he has acquired, a dark figure follows him.
The next day, from Hank’s girlfriend, the crew learns that Hank hastily left for Miami. But moments after this, Jeff spots Hank inside the hospital with a pair of black sunglasses on. Hank keeps asking him the same question again and again: “What are you doing here?” However, before Jeff is able to bring the rest of the crew to the location where he found Hank, Hank disappears. With scenes like these, the movie not only intends to confuse its characters but it also tries to baffle you as a viewer. Hank’s sudden appearance and disappearance right after make you question whether anything in the movie is real or not.
What Happened to Hank?
A lot is revealed in the closing moments of the film, and at the same time, almost nothing is. In the ending moments of the film, Gordon completely loses his mind and relentlessly kills all the members of his crew. One major revelation that the closing scene of the movie makes is that Hank was actually there in the hospital when Jeff had spotted him that day. Turns out that when he was trying to steal all those coins and silver teeth from the hospital that night, Gordon was the dark figure who followed him. Gordon then used the lobotomy instrument and placed it right inside Hank’s prefrontal cortex. This explains why Hank loses his mind and keeps asking Jeff the same question. This also explains why he was wearing those black sunglasses. As foreshadowed in one of the early scenes of the movie, doctors who used to perform a lobotomy on their patients “prescribed” them black glasses as the lobotomy often leaves patients with a black eye.
The Ending: “I live in the weak and the wounded, Doc.”
A supernatural explanation for the ending of the movie would be that Mary and all of her personalities completely took control of Gordon’s mind. As revealed in the 9th tape, Mary’s fourth personality, Simon, claims “I live in the weak and the wounded, Doc.” And since Gordon was so vulnerable from the beginning of the movie itself, he became an easy target for Simon. This also explains that Gordon killed his wife because when she dropped that vessel on his leg, the Simon side of Mary’s personality was woken up in his head. Even in the final moments of the movie, when Gordon kills all of his men, it is Mary’s “Simon-personality” that has taken over him. To put it simply, it is Simon who made Gordon kill everyone.
Why Was Phil Telling him to Wake Up?
When Gordon goes on his killing rampage, Phil asks him to “wake up.” And moments after this, Phil suddenly disappears in thin air. It is then revealed that right before this, Gordon had already killed Phil. This scene can also have two explanations. One could be that Phil was simply a projection of Gordon’s subconscious which was fighting back to gain control. Phil was Gordon’s underlying guilt which was trying to protect him and stop him from completely losing his shit. Or it is also possible that after Gordon killed him, Phil’s ghost showed up to snap him out of his mental breakdown and release him from Mary’s possession.
An Alternate Theory
In the above explanation, we have deduced how Simon/Mary possessed Gordon and then made him commit all those murders. A more realistic and not-so-supernatural theory to explain the ending would be that Gordon was once a patient at the hospital and he very well knew Mary when she was kept there. When he first saw Mary’s wheelchair, all of his old memories at the hospital came rushing back to him and that’s how he completely lost his mind. The ghosts of Mary and Simon that lurk in the back of his head are just troubled memories from his past experiences at the hospital. This theory also explains how he seemed to be so well-versed with all the routes of the hospital and also knew how to perform a perfect lobotomy.
Moreover, this also explains why he got so pissed when he found out that Hank was stealing the belongings of the patients who were burnt there. If you can recall well, there’s also a scene at the beginning of the movie where the guard of the facility reveals that when the hospital was shut down, many of its patients were simply set free on the streets. So it is possible that Gordon was one of these patients who were just let out after it was shut down. With this theory, Simon was nothing but the devil that rests in the back of every human’s head. While some of us are able to tame it, others like Gordon become its victims.
Read More: Best Mind-Fuck Movies on Netflix