Stars: Chace Crawford, Robert Patrick, Eliza Dushku, Nicole Forester, P.J. Byrne, Brandon T. Jackson | Written by Christopher Borrelli | Directed by Robert Legato
We seem to be in the middle of a spate of hospital-based horror at the moment, with both this film, Eloise, and the retitled The Hospital (aka The Linda Vista Project), hitting DVD here in the UK within a matter of weeks; and there’s even more to come…
Eloise sees Jacob Martin’s (Crawford) father pass away, committing suicide, leaving him a considerable inheritance… Only there’s a catch: Jacob must first prove his aunt is dead. Apparently succumbed at the great fire of the Eloise Asylum, Jacob’s aunt’s death certificate is tied up in a legal quagmire. Desperate for money Jacob’s friend Dell (Jackson) suggests they break into the abandoned institution in hopes of finding a death certificate. Enlisting the help of Scott (Byrne) a slightly mentally dysfunctional person, and his sister Pia (Dushku) to look after Scott; the four friends break into the infamous hospital – which was known for “confrontation therapy”. However while inside the asylum, the group not only finds that Eloise houses a horrifying history but also the truth about their own tragic pasts.
This particular tale is easily the most high-profile horror hospital film, featuring not only Robert Patrick (so good in TV’s Scorpion), but also Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford, Brandon T. Jackson from the Percy Jackson movies; and former Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Eliza Dushku – who, like her cast mates from that show, surprisingly hasn’t acheived similar levels of success in more recent years. Unfortunately Eloise isn’t going to change that.
I never go into movies wishing them to fail. Quite the opposite in fact. I think all genre fans approach horror movies with an open mind. After all horror fans are the least descerning film-goers of them all. How many times did you used to take a chance on a horror movie because the box art looked cool? Or because there was at least one actor or actress in the film whose other genre films you enjoyed? I know I used to do that all the time as a teenager – which is why today I’m willing to give ANY genre film a fair shake. You never know when you’re going to come across a hidden gem.
Sadly Eloise is not a hidden gem. In fact it’s not much of a horror movie at all – in so much at its not in the least bit scary or horrific. It seems when it comes to Eliza Dushku and horror, the girl can’t catch a break! The last horror film she had a lead role in, Open Graves, was risible and this isn’t much better.
Whilst the setting, a real-life asylum that was actually known for shoddy medical practices, sounds like a great idea, the execution lets this film down considerably. There are numerous plot holes and lapses in logic (the biggest being the “coincidence” that Jacob already knows Scott’s sister – like we didn’t know something else was actually going on). As for the jumping back and forth in space and time? Whilst it looks cool and provides insight into the evil-doings in the asylum’s past, its use does nothing to help the already badly-plotted story make sense. Plus, the very idea that darkness, shadows, creepy lights etc. are a substitute for actual well-executed ACTUAL scares is unbelieveable – but that’s exactly what Eloise relies on.
A cinematic version of ADHD, Eloise is a jumbled mess that does nothing to live up to the “horror” moniker it has been given. The film is out now on DVD from Signature Entertainment.