20. Simon Recording - Session 9 (2001)
Session 9 is generally devoid of quality, featuring a career-worst performance by David Caruso threatening to turn the film into more of a comedy than a horror, but it does do a startlingly good job at creating atmosphere.
The greatest character here is by far the abandoned asylum itself, with its deserted halls and ominous rooms almost so tangibly full of eerie history, you feel like you could choke on it. If these walls could talk… they’d only be scarier.
The film garners tension using a series of recorded sessions detailing the evaluation of former patient Mary Hobbes, steadily peeling back the layers of her dissociative identity disorder. One of her personalities, “Simon”, is ominously built up as a feared figure of dread, hinted to be directly involved in the murky events that led to Mary’s hospitalisation.
When we finally hear the voice of “Simon”, it’s remarkably effective. There’s something about his origins within a tape recording found in an already terrifying asylum that makes it all the more fearful. Simon’s twisted laughter as he reveals Mary’s murder of her family feels coated with the darkness of the film’s setting.
The final line is one that festers in the mind long after the credits roll: “Where do you live, Simon?” “I live in the weak and the wounded.” It’s a fitting reminder that the real monsters and ghouls of the world are simply the ones that live amongst us, hidden in plain sight, and buried in fractured psyches.