THE ASYLUM (2015)
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Marcus Nispel’s abandoned asylum horror has gone through more than one name change, It started out as Blackmask, then became Exeter and now has settled on the generic The Asylum…for now. The film tells of the long abandoned Exeter Asylum where mentally disturbed children were brought for care and rehabilitation. The place became more of a house of horrors and after a fire, was shut down. As the structure is being slowly emptied out for refurbishing, a group of youths decide to hold a rave inside. As this is never a good idea, those remaining in the building the following morning, are locked in by a vengeful spirit and suffer a horrible ordeal of possession and gruesome fates. Will any escape alive?
Nispel, who directed remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday The 13th and Conan The Barbarian, delivers a goofy, dumb, but actually kind of fun horror from his script with Kristen Elms. There is nothing we haven’t seen before, but Nispel knows it and just goes with it. The result is a silly but fast paced and very gory 90 minutes that can be entertaining if you just go along with the blood spattered chaos. Nispel presents his story with a serious tone…and with some atmosphere…but throws every possession/haunted asylum trope he can at you and showers it in blood and gore. It’s far from a classic and we are very familiar with the story elements, so there are little actual scares or any real intensity about it, but it is energetic and unapologetic…and that helps make it fun. Nispel has always had a strong visual sense, so it looks good and the gore and make-up FX are quite well executed. As with many horrors of this nature, expect characters to do dumb things to make the situation worse or put themselves in harm’s way and Nispel especially seems to have fun with this ‘tradition.’
As for the cast…veteran Stephen Lang is the priest who ran the asylum, Father Conway. He is appropriately mysterious and only appears in the beginning and then in the last act. A paycheck job, probably, but he gives it his spooky all. Other than Lang we have an attractive and adequate cast of relative unknowns. Our leads are Kelly Blatz cutting a fine but reluctant hero as Patrick and pretty Brittany Curran as our heroine with a touch of mystery, Reign. The supporting actors, Gage Golightly as Amber, Brett Dier as Brad, Michael Ormsby as Patrick’s brother Rory, Nick Nicotera as Knowles and Nick Nordella as Drew, are all fine in their parts as party animals at a party gone very wrong. As angry spirit fodder they all do their jobs efficiently.
So, in conclusion, I had a fun time with this. To a degree it’s not an overly good movie and certainly not very original. It does have a good time, though, with the familiar elements of it’s unoriginal story and approached from a certain viewpoint, can be a lot of fun because of it. The cast are all serviceable, the film does have a disturbing look and feel to it and splatters the screen often with gore and body parts when not possessing it’s attractive young cast with evil entities. Good movie?…not in a strictest sense. A fun movie…yes!
2 and 1/2 haunted honies.