A group of beautiful coeds discover that their dorm was once a mental hospital where unspeakable experiments were performed by a deranged physician trying to "cure" troubled teens. But now the mad doctor's ghost is back to continue his torturous work...and he's running out of patients!
"Asylum" begins by invoking one of the oldest clichés in the horror playbook- set your movie in an old, creepy mental asylum where a nutcase of a doctor/psychiatrist who used to perform some controversial surgery on his patients now returns to haunt the people who visit the place. In this case, the place is actually a new dorm that has been refurbished from the old grounds of an asylum and the people are six college freshmen who have just moved into the dorm.
The rest of the movie is pretty much a retread of all the horror clichés you have seen in one movie or another. The lights go flickering when the ghost is around, the main character is a girl who has a history and whom no one believes when she says something sinister is going on and finally the characters are disposed of one by one in the order of importance that they are presented in the movie.
Indeed, "Asylum" keeps its viewer yearning for some streak of originality, any element of freshness it can offer, that sadly never materialises. Even as a genre retread, this is nothing less than disappointing. Its most glaring weakness is its almost non-existent script. Writer Ethan Lawrence (who has written some episodes of TV series like Eureka) makes his feature film writing debut here and let’s just say he should have stayed on the small screen.
Not only does this debut lack any inventiveness, its characters are also caricatures that never inspire any hint of believability. While its premise of the evil doctor manipulating each of the characters’ past skeletons is mildly intriguing, any interest is quickly scattered by the bland stories that you can guess a mile away- the boy obsessed with working out in a gym because of his past obesity or the girl once sexually abused by her father and other such unimaginative dregs.
Director David R. Ellis’ fine sense of pacing that he displayed in enjoyable B-movies like Cellular, Final Destination 2 or Snakes on a Plane is unfortunately missing here. Despite clocking in at 93 minutes, this film feels much longer than it should thanks to its aimlessness. Sans for the climax, there is little build-up in tension or atmosphere from one killing to the next.
If there is an archive of how not to make movies, "Asylum" is one flick that will fit right in. From bad story to bad direction to fake characters, there is not one redeeming factor to be found here. You’re best advised to stay as far away as possible from this movie that treats its audience like the retards in its own setting.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Nice visual transfer that balances the contrast nicely during the many darker scenes in the movie. The Dolby 5.1 track is also surprisingly solid when evil doc comes out.
by Gabriel Chong