asylum | david r. ellis | ethan lawrence | sarah roemer | jake muxworthy | mark rolston | slasher | supernatural | thriller | united states | mental hospital | travis van winkle | ellen hollman | carolina garcia | cody kasch | lin shaye | joe inscoe | gabe wood
Director: David R. Ellis
Writer: Ethan Lawrence
Starring: Sarah Roemer, Jake Muxworthy and Mark Rolston
This was a film I put on my Netflix list I think back when I was in college. Things kept popping up so it took me a while to finally get it and check this film out. I knew virtually nothing about it going in, which is my ideal way of seeing films. The official synopsis is six college students discover their dorm was once an insane asylum that conducted gruesome lobotomies on its teenage inmates.
Now this film kicks off with two kids hearing their parents talking loudly. They climb down part of the stairs and see their father going crazy. He is talking about voices and finally he kills himself with a gun. We then shift to present day where Madison (Sarah Roemer) is being dropped off at college by her mother. We learn that her brother also went here and he took his own life. She is partially doing this to get over it.
She goes to the dorm she will be staying in, learning on the way from a maintenance man Mackey (Joe Inscoe) and a security guard Kelso (Gabe Wood) that is a newer dorm. Madison is confused when she goes inside, as it doesn’t look new. Once she gets to her room, she has a run in with Holt (Jake Muxworthy) before she can get inside.
There’s an orientation with the rest of the people in the dorm where she meets those on her floor. There is Tommy (Travis Van Winkle) who is kind of a preppy jerk, Ivy (Ellen Hollman) who is a slutty college girl, Maya (Carolina Garcia) a reserved Latina and String (Cody Kasch) who is a 16 year old wonder kid. Rez (Randall Sims) is their graduate adviser who takes them on the tour. It ends at a door that leads to a catwalk to a section that is still under construction.
That night this group is together and through String they learn that this dorm used to be an asylum. It was run by a mad doctor (Mark Rolston) that would torture his patients. With String’s computer abilities they go into the part that is unfinished and look around.
Soon after though, weird things start to happen in their dorm. Through their interactions we learn that all of the characters are harboring dark secrets that molded them into the person they are today. This makes them prime candidates for the mad doctor, who preys on negative energy and suffering. The thing is, is the doctor the one stalking them or is it someone else?
Now I do have to say that this film does do some things really well. I like the idea of this asylum being turned into a dorm like it is. It makes me wonder how old this college she is attending is, since a synopsis I read states these experiments took place in the 1930’s. That’s not possible, since one of the characters has experiences there. I will let that slide, since I don’t recall the film stating when it happened.
Some thing else I like is also something I have a slight issue with. I love the concept of a doctor, especially back in day doing some questionable things to cure ailments they don’t fully understand. This film actually has a touch of The House on Haunted Hill remake in that respect. I also like that when the doctor is coming after the teens in this film, he focuses on their pain and suffering. Now my issue here is that is unlikely that all of these characters have dealt with things as bad as they have. It just doesn’t seem possible they’d all be on the same floor. I get that I’m probably nitpicking, but I almost think the film could have tone that aspect down a bit for more believability.
The film is interesting though is that it really becomes a supernatural slasher. At first I didn’t think that was the route it was going to go. The first death made it seem like something else, but then it shifts. I almost wish that it would have decided which way it wanted to go and stuck with it. Being supernatural, there are things that happen that make me question why the doctor wouldn’t do other things. The rules aren’t just established enough for me.
I do have to say that the film is paced pretty well. I do think it is a tad on the slow side until about the midway point. From there it really picks up and does build tension. The minor issues that I’ve stated above do hurt the pacing just a bit. I thought the ending was fine for the film that we got as well.
This brings me to the acting. I’m a fan of Roemer, even though I haven’t seen her in a lot lately. I thought her role in this film was pretty solid. There is the aspect of her that she is scared she’s going crazy, because she feels it runs in her family. What her father and brother did is really weighing on her and we can see. There is also a scene where she is nude. Now I’m not sure if it is really her or a body double though. Muxworthy develops well as her love interest. I thought their growth to that was fine. The rest of the group though is really clinched characters. I did find Winkle both hilarious and annoying. Hollman, Garcia and Kasch were fine in their roles. Rolston does fine as the villain in this film. He plays a jerk in most things I’ve seen him in and he plays it well. I did like seeing a cameo by Lin Shaye as well since I’m a big fan. Rest of the cast round out the film for what was needed also.
The effects of the film were something I was dreading, but I was pleasantly surprised. They did go practical for most of them and I thought it looked good. There was some CGI and most of that looked bad, but they didn’t go with much of it. That really made me happy for sure. I also thought the film was shot well and there was some decent kills.
Now with that said, this film is definitely flawed, but it did some things I like. Using a former asylum as the setting was good. I thought the concept of using these characters’ past trauma was also solid, even though I doubt there would be that many living on the same floor like this film has. The pacing was a bit slow early on, but it does pick up to a solid ending. The acting I thought was pretty solid and the practical effects were as well. The CGI wasn’t great and the score of the film didn’t really stand out. It didn’t hurt the film though either. I wasn’t expecting a supernatural slasher, but that’s what this film became. I did find it to be slightly above average and it wasn’t all that bad.
My Rating: 6 out of 10