30 March 2010

Tuesday Title: Session 9

Each Tuesday I post a still from the opening titles of a film - as a celebration of great title sequences, cinematic use of typography and the feeling of anticipation in waiting for a film to start...

Today: Session 9 (Brad Anderson/2001)

'Fear Is A Place' says Session 9's strapline, and the title shot from its opening title sequence sets the scene and backs up this statement effectively. The film opens on a long, upside-down shot of a dilapidated wheelchair at the end of a dark hallway in an abandoned mental hospital (the Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts - the sole setting for the film), where a five-man asbestos clean-up crew are working alone. The camera slowly tilts clockwise, accompanied by increasingly unnerving music, which seems to echo with the sounds of far-off screams, as if they're emanating from one of the hospitals many empty rooms. The title gradually appears (in an inverted version of Joseph Coniglio's typeface Carbon 14 - a type used to create plastic labels with Dymo tape markers) as the camera continues to tilt.

The typeface is perfectly chosen considering the themes of the film's plot: whilst working, the team discover a collection of nine tapes left in the hospital that contain recorded interview sessions with former patients (eight are of innocent patients - the ninth is a mysterious unknown) - the kinds of tapes that would've very likely been labelled with Dymo tape. The shot, in one camera move, brilliantly sums up the truly unsettling tone of the whole film. After the title fades, and several scenes later, the main character Gordon Fleming (Peter Mullen) stumbles upon the scene of the wheelchair: as he stares at it in a curious manner, he hears a voice from out of nowhere very creepily say, "Hello... Gordon." The voice belongs to the patient on the tape marked 'Session 9'.

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