Session 9

“I live in the weak and the wounded, Doc.”

For our final session, we watched independent American horror film Session 9.To be honest, one of the first things that come to mind when I think about the movie is that Horatio wasn’t wearing his sunglasses. But that aside, like in A Tale of Two Sisters, Session 9 is also a psychological horror film that explored the horrors of the human psyche, and again with a focus on dissociative identity disorder. Another similarity would be how both films thrived on ambiguity. By the latter part it took quite an effort for me to piece together what was happening on the screen. It was all really confusing. At one point, I actually thought that Gordon was a patient in the asylum, which was abandoned only in his imagination, and all the events that had happened were mere projections of his mind. Then in the scene where Phil was telling Gordon to wake up, I thought that Gordon was undergoing some sort of hypnotherapy in real life, and that Phil was actually his doctor.

While listening to the recordings of Mary’s therapy sessions, I couldn’t help but recall this episode of Oprah I’ve seen which featured people afflicted with dissociative identity disorder. There was this woman Truddi Chase who had 92 distinct personalities on record. Then there was this other woman Kim Noble, and she had 21 personalities. From what I recall, the “people living inside” Kim included a gay man and a little girl.  Now these two women sounded exactly like Mary did. They changed their voices depending on which personality was taking over at the time and when asked where Kim or Truddi was, they’d say that they were asleep or away. And like Mary, both also had traumatic experiences at some point in their lives, which is why they had chosen to adopt multiple personalities. The closeness of the movie’s portrayal of someone afflicted with DID to reality just scares me.

Now Mike, upon finding the session tapes, undergoes the process of disclosure, discovery, proof, explanation, hypothesis, and confirmation that Noel Carroll had described. But our curiosity is aroused not just by what was happening to Mary, but also because of the characters and their internal and external conflicts. Most of the movie’s run indeed was spent fleshing out the personalities of each of the men in their team. This curiosity of ours keeps us glued to the screen even though it might cause discomfort or, in my case, one feels that the pacing can a bit too slow at times. But while the movie raises a lot of questions, almost all of them had been unanswered. In fact, the only thing that was established by the end of the film was that Gordon was insane, that while in his dissociative state he had murdered his wife and child and later his co-workers as well.  But what was up with Mary Hobbes? What made Gordon slip into insanity? And most importantly, what is Simon, exactly? I mean, it’s very unlikely that two people would share the exact same alternate personality. Is he some kind of supernatural entity or just another product of Gordon’s imagination? According to Noel Carroll, people watch horror films because they want to know more about the unknown. With all these unanswered questions, I could say that while my curiosity had kept my attention from lingering during the movie’s run, it also brought about my discontent when it ended. But I guess this ambiguity is a good thing, as it is more bound to leave a greater impression among viewers.

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