31st Mar2017

‘The Asylum’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jonathan Rosenthal, Adrian Voo, Bo Linton, Caroline Attwood, Christine Springett, Patrick Edward Wynne, Kathinka van Putten, Omar Hansen, Athena Baumeister, Velta Moore, David Neff | Written and Directed by Filip Maciejewicz


Another film released under another generic title that will please another supermarket buyer, The Asylum first debuted on the US film festival circuit  – under its original title of Seventy-Nine – way back in 2013; and yet still remains unreleased on any physical format in the US. Now the film makes it UK DVD debut with little fanfare from Lightning Pictures (aka Point Blank), whose last release, Leatherface, will be more renown for trying to con UK audiences rather than for being a good slasher movie. Surprise, surprise we’ve already had a film called The Asylum released on DVD here, back in 2015, from director Marcus Nispel; who directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003 – and Leatherface is actually the title of the forthcoming TCM prequel/reboot NOT the film Lightning Pictures put out earlier this year…

All of which begs the question, what IS Lightning Pictures obsession with that classic horror franchise? But hey, at least this time round we have a film that justifies its new title!

The Asylum is set in an abandoned mental institution, where doctors carry out secret experiments on unsuspecting patients. The experiments, code-named Limes, are designed to cure violent episodes within the inmates through new methods of brainwashing and mind manipulation. However, it is soon discovered by the families of the patients that this is no ordinary hospital (no sh*t, this is a horror movie after all – since when have asylums in horror movies been anything other than bad news?)

Beginning with an intriguing opening – an “experiment” that sees two patients fight to the death – The Asylum soon falls completely off a cliff with bad storyteling, terrible ADR and camerawork that is horribly framed, poorly lit and uses pan and scan to show all the participants in a scene; plus the film has a ridiculously  melodramatic soundtrack that is both overused and overwrought! Honestly, it’s no wonder this film took four years to reach DVD here…

The more the film goes on, the more it reveals the sheer ineptitude of those involved. It would help if The Asylum had a decent cast to overcome the poor filmmaking choices but there’s no such luck, the movie is filled with amateur hour performances: the kinds of which audiences won’t have seen since the SOV-era. Of course, if you’re a fan of the risible filmmaking of that part of VHS’ legacy, you might get a kick out of seeing this “throwback” to homemade cinema.

To be fair, you have to commend anyone who can put together a cast, crew and budget to produce a movie these days, but in cases such as this said films should be left on the shelf. Or at least just use a showreel pieces for a future filmmaking career. Even at the bargain basement price of £7 in your local supermarktet this is one film that is not worth the expenditure!

The Asylum is out now on DVD from Lightning Pictures.


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