The Parker Sessions (Frightfest 2021) review

By David Dent

For a low budget two hander shot on an extremely modest budget, this director’s debut feature is 70 odd minutes of anxiety fuelling trigger imagery.

Described as ‘A Nightmare by Stephen King Simmons’ and with an end title crawl that names key (male) figures vilified by the #metoo movement, it’s the story of Parker (Rachell Sean making her first onscreen performance), a woman haunted by night terrors.
She seeks help from a counsellor, Robert (Danny James) but in their first session Parker is by turns aggressive and reticent, wanting something more in terms of help than Robert’s (never ‘Bob’ he warns her) coolly professional, boundary observing self.

As the sessions continue, Robert is revealed to have some skeletons in his own closet which Parker exploits in a last-ditch effort to provide her with more physical assistance. Did she know about the counsellor’s private life before she started having sessions with him? Simmons gives us little backstory beyond Parker’s severe mental health challenges so it’s not clear. What we do get is Robert’s gradual manipulation of the situation, which can only end badly.

Shot in crisp black and white in four ‘acts’ ‘The Parker Sessions’ only occasionally moves outside Robert’s office, for some sequences involving Parker’s chaotic home life and a lysergic trip to the local fair. It’s a tough watch, short and to the point; a quiet night at the cinema it certainly isn’t.

The Parker Sessions screened at Arrow Video Frightfest 2021.

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