Here are some thoughts on the two movies I’ve seen most recently. SPOILERS for both films discussed!
Session 9 – Largely filmed at the defunct Danvers State Mental Hospital in Massachusetts, it focuses on an asbestos abatement team trying to clean the place within a week, because the owner was desperate for a contract. As they work, they discover some odd secrets within the place, including a set of old tapes of therapy sessions with a patient named Mary, who suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder and killed a bunch of people. Dissent begins to spread among the workers, and some of them start disappearing. It’s one of those movies that keeps revisiting scenes from a different perspective, revealing that Gordon, the owner, had killed his wife (he only remembers hitting her, and wonders why she’ll never take his calls to apologize) and then murdered his employees one by one. The implication is that he’s possessed by the same evil force Mary was. It was pretty effective, and the setting definitely worked in the film’s favor.
I, Tonya – This is a largely sympathetic look at Tonya Harding that still doesn’t let her off the hook completely. It admits that it takes some liberty with the facts, being based on interviews that don’t always make sense and sometimes contradict each other, which leads to some fourth wall breaking throughout. At one point, there’s a clip of Jeff Gillooly insisting that Tonya once fired a gun at him, which is shown, but Tonya says, “I never did this.” I was a sophomore in high school in 1994 when the Harding story was unavoidable, but I can’t say I ever did much research into it. Beth observed that her mother LaVona Golden, as portrayed by Allison Janney, is basically a John Waters character, so exaggerated in her abuse and generally disgusting manner as to be absurd. Shawn Eckardt was played as a totally delusional idiot. While I’m sure it’s all exaggerated somewhat, it seems like national scandals perpetrated by total morons are revealed all the time these days. Gillooly and Eckhardt were ahead of their time in that respect, but they weren’t rich enough to get out of trouble. Speaking of which, there was some interesting social commentary in Harding being a really talented skater but having neither the money nor the attitude that the judges expected, which is hardly fair.