Stonehearst Asylum

"Very Good"

Stonehearst Asylum Review


An arch approach makes this bonkers thriller rather enjoyable, even if it never quite cracks the surface. The story comes from the Edgar Allan Poe story The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, written in 1845, so director Brad Anderson (The Call) has fashioned the movie as bit of riotous Victorian mental institution nuttiness. Cue the mad-eyed acting, gothic production design and ludicrously batty plot. But if you take it for what it is, it's pretty entertaining.

It takes place in December 1999, as the new century is about to dawn and young doctor Edward (Jim Sturgess) arrives at Stonehearst Lunatic Asylum in a freakishly isolated corner of England. Instantly smitten with the inmate Eliza (Kate Beckinsale), Edward struggles to concentrate on the tasks given to him by his sinister boss Silas (Ben Kingsley), while being constantly watched over by the glowering groundsman Mickey Finn (David Thewlis). Silas' revolutionary system of treatment involves indulging the patients in their specific delusions, which has created a deranged sense of community in the sprawling hospital. Then one night stumbling around in the darkness, Edward discovers a group of people locked in prison cells in the basement, and their leader Benjamin (Michael Caine) claims to be the true head doctor. Yes, the inmates have taken over the asylum!

This premise allows the cast to indulge in a variety of hilariously shifty performances, hamming up every scene with constant innuendo. There isn't anyone in this place who looks remotely sane. Sturgess is fine as the dull Edward, while Beckinsale keeps her character's madness just out of sight, so both of them pale in this colourful company. Kingsley and Caine camp it up marvellously, while Thewlis adds a strong sense of menace and Sophie Kennedy Clark almost steals the film as an amusingly sex-mad virginal nurse. It's also worth watching the background players, as each has a ball his or her brand of craziness.

If we're looking for some underlying themes, they're here too in the fact that the patients have all been dumped here from wealthy families trying to sweep their madness out of view. But we're really here to see the grisly experiments, things that leap out when least expected and hairstyles that can only be described as criminally insane. The outrageously fiery finale on New Year's Eve is rather overcomplicated, but still offers some solid laughs, even if everything is played dead straight. Through it all the plot drives resolutely forward amid constant warnings that we should get out of here while we still can. But we're having too much fun to leave.


Stonehearst Asylum Trailer

 



Stonehearst Asylum

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th October 2014

Distributed by: Millenium Entertainment

Production compaines: Icon Productions, Sobini Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 15

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Eliza Graves, as Edward Newgate, as Silas Lamb, as Dr. Salt, as The Alienist, as Mickey Finn, as Swanwick, as Mrs. Pike, as Millie, Guillaume Delaunay as Arthur Timbs, Edmund Kingsley as Charles Graves, as Paxton, Ekaterina Stoyanova as Curios Follower

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