Archive for the ‘insane asylums’ Tag

Stonehearst Asylum (2014)   2 comments

stonehearst

Based on a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, STONEHEARST ASYLUM follows a medical student, Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess) from Oxford University to the titular sanitarium in 1899.  There, he meets Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale), a beautiful and refined woman who seems out of place in the rural institution.

eliza

“…making love to his tonic and gin.”

He falls for her instantly and all that impartial doctor stuff flies out the barred windows.  Newgate also meets Dr. Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley), an enlightened doctor who doesn’t hold with the treatments (read torture) the medical establishment favor for mental patients at the time.  Lamb is far more progressive and humane than Newgate expects and the two men become close.

kingsley

“And how long have you been Scott of the Antarctic?”

Odd events and strange noises prompt Newgate to take an unauthorized tour of the basement and his discovery changes everything.

oh hi

“Oh, hi.”

Brad Anderson directs his stellar cast professionally.  It’s hard to miss with Beckinsale, Kingsley, Michael Caine, Sinéad Cusack, Brendan Gleeson, and David Thewlis.  The actors live up to their reputations and the atmosphere is eerie, gothic, and shrouded in fog.  I like this film a lot.  It’s more of a thriller than a horror, but the asylum setting and thoughts of bedlam keep it scary.  They could have done more to keep up the suspense, but the lead and character actors play off each other well.  There’s wonderful chemistry between Beckinsale and Sturgess and Kingsley and everyone.  He’s terrific.

ben

“I’m terrific.”

STONEHEARST ASYLUM is a throwback of sorts and I mean that in a good way.  The character-driven story builds naturally and Poe and screenwriter Joe Gangemi throw in a few twists to keep us guessing.  I was drawn into the story and cared about the players.  With a lot of modern horror resorting to jump scares and shaky cameras, this film with it’s intelligent dialogue and sensible characters stands out.  If you like classic horror films with a bit of a modern twist, you’ll like this one.

caine

“They’re all out of crullers.”

Archivo 253 (2015)   Leave a comment

Archivo-253-1

Four friends explore an abandoned insane asylum to look for ghosts.  Set in Mexico, this found footage horror film shows the four twenty-something investigators scale the wall and break into the hospital in their search for paranormal activity.  You can tell they’re serious because they bring a spookometer or some such gizmo that lights up when the spirits want to say hi.  Naturally, their neat little plan goes off the rails almost immediately and they spend the rest of the film running breathlessly from room to room looking for Diego.

diego selfie
Diego checks the spookometer.

Director Abe Rosenberg does the whole shaky-cam thing throughout the film.  He also filmed most of it at night so there’s that.  The story lacks…a story since we get almost no background on the asylum and the dialogue consists mostly of dopey non-conversations a quartet of nitwits might have.  Why do I think they’re nitwits?  They spend several days in the facility and never walk around in the daytime to make a map.  At night, someone hears a sound and runs full speed at it leaving the others running after him yelling his name.  I’m talking about you again, Diego.  Also, they have no exit plan.  Honestly, who goes into a place thinking it’s haunted or full of crazy people without knowing how to get out?  The one thing I learned from this annoying exercise is that Mexico has stupid, spoiled, rich kids, too.  Ahhh culture.

stupid
Montage of stupid.

haunty

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