The Session (2014) – By Samantha Paradise

Over the past few years, director Dean Garris has been keeping warm by wrapping himself in festival laurels. Garris has enchanted viewers in the documentary and horror circuits and now he’s seeking more accolades with his newest flick, The Session.  Although The Session is billed as a horror/thriller, Garris hardly relies on the cheap tricks the genre banks on. The director dares to turn our attention away from spook and instead stitches together a flawless balance of captivating characters and suspense in his ten minute short.

During the opening sequence, The Session boldly states “This is mostly a work of fiction.” The intriguing title card is the first of many curious moments planted for us throughout the film. Viewers are invited inside the therapy session of five convicted killers. As the sitting progresses, instigator Mr. Fouchet pokes at the dirty laundry of the other inmates. Dr. Potts (Tim Bell), the therapist leading the session becomes irritated with his antics and begins to lose control over the prisoners. The tension then catapults the viewers into a colossal plot twist that satisfyingly ties up the loose ends.

The Session isn’t a film easily forgotten after the credits roll. This is a movie made for those who enjoy searching for breadcrumbs upon multiple viewings. At first glance, this film can be easily mistaken as a crime drama with a typical group dynamic; hostile prisoners with a know-it-all doctor. However, the second time though is really a treat. The dialogue becomes richer, the characters flourish and observers can see this group is anything but typical. The director has reversed our presumptions; reminding us that the killers, not doctors have the best insight into a disturbed mind.

The Session is a humble film. All Garris requires to startle his audience is white walls and a few orange jumpsuits. The simplicity of the set allows for other, vital elements of filmmaking to shine; namely skilled cinematography and compelling acting.  The director’s ability to build character and direct an incredible plot in a short ten minutes is certainly worth applauding.