Night Explorers: The Asylum
night explorers: the asylum | john k. webster | hannah al rashid | craig edwards | algina lipskis | ghost hunters | slasher | trampsploitation | united kingdom | charlie rich | neal ward | shezai fejzo | ausman khan | april luong | dave dyer | harrison whitlock
Film: Night Explorers: The Asylum
Director: John K. Webster
Writer: John K. Webster
Starring: Hannah Al Rashid, Craig Edwards and Algina Lipskis
This is a movie that I got the chance to see thanks to Kim from Dominion3 who sent me a screener. Looking at the title, I had an idea that this would be like a ghost hunter type horror film. That is the case, but this does something a bit different that I appreciate as well. I did come in blind though, just knowing that this was a 2023 film and in the genre. I’ve also now given it a second viewing to see how I sat with knowing how things play out.
Synopsis: when a group of urban explorers get the chance of a lifetime to explore one of the world’s most haunted asylums, they meet something truly evil that will not let them leave and will push them to the edge of sanity.
Now we start this by seeing an earlier video from one of the groups that we are following. I thought this was an interesting way to start since it is being edited. Ozi (Craig Edwards) is the guy doing the work. He is seeing Nova (Hannah Al Rashid), who he also lives with. They make up the team along with Jimboy (Charlie Rich), Danny (Dave Dyer) and Rory (Neal Ward). Ozi is given an offer by another team to explore Pelosi Asylum. It is set to be demolished so they are going in together. These two shows can combine to do the last exploration.
This other group is made up of Emma (Algina Lipskis), Claire (April Luong) and Gabe (Monte Solomons). Together, they meet at Ozi and Nova’s to party the night before. The next day they make the journey to the asylum. It is there they set up their gear and plan. They’re going to split up to cover more ground and see if they can catch anything on recordings. They get more than they bargained for as it becomes a fight for survival to escape this place before it is too late.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is that I give credit to this movie giving you one thing before getting into what sets this apart. I love that it lured me in with this ghost hunter show. We learn that they have success. They are faking things and Jimboy wants to get away from that. Ozi doesn’t want the show to die so he knows that to make it entertaining, things must happen. Jimboy understands and they’re not too far apart. He thinks that it comes down to the places they’re investigating. He also believes that they’ve recorded real, unexplained things.
Then to shift a bit, I like that they combine with another group to take advantage of checking out this asylum. There’s another reason for the type of film this becomes as well to increase our numbers. I won’t pull a punch here and say it is for body count. It made me think of something like Grave Encounters or its sequel. I was wondering as we entered the asylum if this was going to be a knock off that one. What I will say is that it isn’t. I’m not going to spoil what type of film we get here.
I’ll do a brief spoiler section at the end so I’m going to shift to the acting. I thought that Edwards, Al Rashid and Rich are good characters from our main group. They are distinct and interesting. Lipskis, Ward, Dyer, Luong and Solomons are also good as the rest of that group. I’ll also commend Shezai Fejzo, Ausman Khan, Harrison Whitlock and John Quinton. How they’re done up makes it hard to differentiate outside of Whitlock. His character name made sense though to set him apart. Even though I can’t tell the rest of the group from each other, they work for what is needed here in ramping up the horror.
That will then lead me to filmmaking. I thought this was well-made. I like the different technology used to pick up supernatural things. I’m not sure that I believe they work in the real world but that is something else entirely. I just need to for the movie. I do believe there is one thing that everyone there acknowledges isn’t picking up what they’re selling. I appreciate the peek behind the curtain. The cinematography was good to incorporate found footage elements. The effects we get here look practical and I’m glad there. They go brutal, which I also appreciate. Other than that, the soundtrack and design fit what was needed. I like the walkie-talkies not working which adds tension due to the thickness of the walls. Could be something else interfering as well.
In conclusion, this movie subverted my expectations in a good way. I thought we were getting something that we had seen before with these ghost hunting shows and then it takes a turn. The acting was good. There are characters who are there for body count, but I don’t have an issue there. This is a well-made movie. The strongest part being the effects and how brutal it went. What I did have an issue with is that this is from the United Kingdom so the accents and slang terms were hard to follow. Not enough to ruin this by any stretch. The true subgenre is one that I’m not always the biggest fan, but what we get with it worked for me. I’ve seen similar things done, just not necessarily with this specific set up. I would recommend giving this one a view for sure.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10
The first thing here is that this is an exploitation film, where I guess it would fall into hixploitation or tramploitation. What I mean by this latter one is that we have homeless people living in this asylum. I’d say that this is becomes a slasher film as well. This would be in the vein of something like Tooth and Nail. I love that it lures us in with ghost hunting stuff. Like I said, it felt like Grave Encounters where they would lock themselves in and then the supernatural things trap them. Instead, they are locked inside with murderous tramps. I also got vibes of something like Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings. We have the same premise, minus that one being a franchise prequel to explain the start of the family. This works better in the framework for me.