Asylum (2008)

JULY 21, 2008


Not sure the logic behind releasing two “mental” horror movies on DVD in the same week, but whatever. I’m glad I went with Insanitarium first, because it was a lot of fun and thus it wasn’t too much of a bother than Asylum was pretty goddamn dull, as I had already had my fill of the white walled genre. But it’s also pretty derivative; not only is the killer’s modus operandi identical to Freddy Krueger’s, but even whole lines of dialogue are repeated from Nightmare 3, something I would have noticed even if I HADN’T just re-watched that movie a few days prior.

The main problem with Asylum, however, is the complete lack of tension, suspense, or even thrills. We have six kids, with the hero/heroine obvious right from the start, and absolutely no one else. Hell, even the two minor characters (a security guard and the RA for the dorm our principals live in) aren’t even used as fodder. 4 death scenes for a 95 minute horror movie that’s not very interesting to begin with is pretty weak, if you ask me.

Making matters worse, the film is directed by David R. Ellis, who was 3 for 3 in terms of delivering the goods in silly movies. Cellular is a blast, Snakes on a Plane is crowd-pleasing fun (once it gets going anyway), and Final Destination 2 is something of a minor classic. But there’s not a shred of those films’ energy to be found here; everyone looks bored, the killer is a generic cross between Jigsaw and whatever the fuck Jeff Combs is supposed to be in the Haunted Hill movies (and, again, Freddy), the death scenes are incredibly half-assed (it’s the old “using their fears against them” type shit, but they are all just afraid of their parents or ex-boyfriends, so Fauxddy settles for just stabbing or hanging them most of the time), etc.

But the generic shit doesn’t stop there. Our heroine sees one of her friends dead. So she gets the cops and other friends to come see the body. Guess what? It’s gone!!! Just like in every other goddamn horror movie ever made. Just once, just fucking ONCE, I want someone to get someone to show them a corpse and have the goddamn thing still be there. It’s one thing to bring out clichés that work (i.e. – the whole concept of the Final Girl), but one as trite and annoying as that really should be permanently retired. The movie also features the “creepy” character (a janitor here) that turns out to have all the answers and aid the heroes in the end.

And again, I’m not really against a complete lack of originality in a movie. Doomsday was a lot of fun, for example. But the difference is, everyone in that movie was having fun too. Not the case here; the only actor who seems to be enjoying himself is the annoying jock character, who’s too grating to matter. Everyone else, particularly the main girl (the broad from Disturbia) have two modes: sleepwalking, or serious ACTING! They all get their little moment where they talk about their deepest fears (which of course is just foreshadowing how they die), and it’s just laughable. The fact that they all occur back to back doesn’t help.

It’s also botched from a technical stance. It’s a college, but we never see a single other student after the first 10 minutes or so. Do these 6 kids have the entire dorm to themselves? Also, at the beginning, when they all meet, it’s presented as random: someone overhears two others talking and joins the conversation, the nice heroine reaches out to the loner kid standing off to the side, etc. Yet, wouldn’t you know it, they are destined to be roommates with one another (the RA guy says “You have been put in groups” – seems like they put themselves in one). What are the odds? There’s also a baffling bit later in the film when a scene switches from “Let’s go try to find a door (or whatever)” mode to a “go go run!” chase scene over the course of one second. Again, there’s no buildup or tension to the film, everything just happens because it happened in a better film that writer Ethan Lawrence obviously wanted to emulate. Even the “deep fears” stuff is badly done. After the first kid is killed, the others each talk about their problems one at a time, as if to tell the audience “Now that you know the gimmick, we’re gonna tell you right now how the rest of us will die.” Almost like they figured no one would like the movie, and thus decided it was only fair to the audience to essentially tell them everything that will happen at the halfway point, so folks could go home and beat traffic.

There were a couple things I liked. The school is Richard (Dick?) Miller University, and... well I wouldn’t say I LIKED it, but there’s a bit where the Final Girl looks up insanity on Wikipedia. I believe that’s the first time I have seen Wiki used in a movie (not just mentioned), so that’s... well, something. Hey, I’m trying.

Don’t bother with this nonsense. The DVD producers obviously phoned in their work as well; the thing doesn’t even have a trailer. It IS password protected for some reason; I had to watch it on a different player because I don’t know the code to my DVD player. ("12345" didn’t work so I gave up). Not sure what’s up with that – the parental lock on my player is turned off anyway? Maybe MGM/FOX were just trying to keep me from bothering.

What say you?


  1. hey the contact email on BD isn't working, so i thought i'd inform you here. there is a user who keeps spamming the user reviews boards who goes by "bobowax" and before he was ilovepinup and strangersluver, but BD cancelled the guy's account. just go to Hostel's user reviews and you'll see what I mean.

  2. Oh shit! I rented this about a week ago, and when it was finished I came onto HMAD to see a review, only to find there wasn't one.

    I did not enjoy it.

  3. I watched this last weekend, and like you thought it was terrible. I never thought David R. Ellis would make a classic, but at least he had never made a film that wasn't worth watching. Glad I'm not the only one who thought "Cellular" was a fun thriller.

  4. Haven't seen this one, but have you seen The Attic Expeditions? I saw it a while ago, but I remember it being about crazy kids. It was pretty trippy, but good. Might be worth checking out.

  5. haha this movie was really really funny. especially at the end when Fauxddy rips off his doctors coat and he has that wire dominatrix shit on... what is he anyway? he can feel pain so he's not a ghost, he's dead but he's not a zombie...? poorly thoughtout film, and you were right about the jock- most annoying character ever.


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