04th Aug2017

‘Asylum of Darkness’ Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Nick Baldasare, Richard Hatch, Amanda Howell, Frank Jones Jr., Tiffany Shepis, Scott Summitt, Tim Thomerson | Written and Directed by Jay Woelfel

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After awakening in a mental asylum, a patient plans an escape to freedom, but finds an even more disturbing, supernatural world on the outside, one that threatens to keep him trapped in madness forever.

Asylum of Darkness creates a surreal reality which creates more questions than answers. Playing out like an extended version of the Twilight Zone, as if it had been directed by David Lynch, so it’s almost impossible to predict the outcome.

Dwight (Nick Baldasare) is currently detained in a mental institution due to him suffering from visions. This has him constantly questioning what is real, including monsters and his doctor, who looks like a rotting corpse. Certain he will find his sanity on the outside, he manages to escape, but once outside things really start to get weird. Whilst making his escape, Dwight causes a car to crash as he runs across the road. As he tries get the driver out of the burning car, something happens which causes them to assume each other’s consciousness. Dwight assumes his new identity and begins a new life. But his happiness is short lived as he finds himself suffering not only from his delusions, but something very real which is trying to kill him..

Amidst all of the confusion, one of the highlights of the film are the film special effects, which have taken more than inspiration from John Carpenter’s The Thing and They Live. The main film itself may be a surreal, dark descent into madness, but the over the top gore effects really add to the film by creating a natural 80’s feel which are further complimented with the film being shot in 35mm. Nick Baldasare remains central to the role and has a good performance as the delusional Dwight. He does well to keep the character balanced and under control, avoiding the temptation to exaggerate his madness. I liked subtleties of his performance which reminded me of Kevin McCarthy in the original Invasion of The Body Snatchers.

I would like to have seen developed more in the film is Tiffany Shepis, who’s character remains unnamed. She makes a sporadic appearance throughout the film, with her involvement only coming to fruition towards the end of the film. I can see why they saved her twist for the end of the film, but I feel she should have been used more as it would have added to the consistency of the main story.

Fans of Battlestar Galactica will have an interest in the film, with Richard Hatch playing one of his last roles as doctor Shaker. He only has a small part in the film but he looks to be having fun, playing the role with an element of tongue and cheek.

Asylum of Darkness does well in creating a surreal atmosphere and is worth watching for some creative special effects and a good performance by Nick Baldasare. But with its confusing story and running time of nearly 2 hours feel a little drawn out, so it may not be to everyone’s taste.

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