What is it all about?
For the 100th edition of their popular TV show Ghost Trackers , a team of paranormal investigators visit the notorious Hillcrest Sanatorium where a bloody massacre once took place. They venture into the bowels of the abandoned hospital to investigate claims of disembodied voices, ghostly apparitions and incidents of missing children that have made Hillcrest infamous. What they discover there is far worse than anything they could ever have imagined, and as they go deeper into the building they start to realize they may never get out alive.
The Hughes Verdict
Another week, another DVD release of found footage horror…….yawn!………
By now this genre is dying a slow and painful death, like the one the Slash formula suffered from late in the 80’s. Like those who still can not get enough of seeing the likes of Jason and Michael in action, Found Footage fanatics are becoming a small cult base which films like Sanatorium cater for. I am not here to mock those fans, as I can watch any slasher film good or bad and still get a kick out of a masked killer, and I can see why those who love these films will enjoy this film like its the Blair Witch Project all over again. The only way I can review this is to just tell all the fans out there that love silly people “not putting down the camera and run”, to stop reading this review now and just enjoy, for the rest of us horror fans? Well where do I start?
Its hard to write this review because basically there is not much to say. Every thing you have seen before in movies like this are there on the screen and Writer and Director Brant Sersen, really does not offer anything new to the table to get us excited. Even after ten minutes of watching, you can not tell the difference between this and say Grave Encounters which has the same general plot, even though to Sersen’s credit, he does try to keep Sanatorium grounded and in the realms of realism.
We follow the crew of the Ghost Trackers, a reality TV crew, who are celebrating their 100th episode. Its New Year’s Eve and they decide to investigate the abandoned Hillcrest Sanatorium, a place where a man named Richard Howell, murdered three children before hanging himself, fifty years to the day. Even if you reading this, I bet you have the same “Again!” vibe, because like I mentioned, by now all horror fans will be immune to this formula.
The crew arrive where the first half hour are nothing but plot filler, we get to know the gang, the place and the murders, before watching the crew set up the cameras around the place and telling us all about the high technology they are using in hope to find some Paranormal Activity. Once again the place itself should be creepy enough with the decay walls, the vast empty spaces, but its hard to get the chills when you think back to such classics like Session 9 who simply done this better.
Before we hit the panic button and chaos assumes, we do get a lot of false scares which do grate a little and while Sersen does muster some much needed tension and a curious vibe which did hold this veteran horror fan’s attention, by the time the blood starts spilling, its really too late to get excited about.
Its a movie where everyone gets killed and we get to see the reason how? Is that a spoiler? Have you seen a Found Footage film? But while I am criticising this movie, there are a few fleeting moments of brilliance. There is one scene that had my horror juices flowing and it involved a flashing camera and a shadow, which once more shows that the general idea of ghost seekers in an abandon place is a good one, but because its been milked to death, all hope of scares are long but gone. Yet sadly I can not think of any film of this long list over recent years that deserves the title “Best of them all”. Yes Grave Encounters is the most popular, but that had its faults along with The Asylum Tapes, and with Sanatorium, all these had some scenes of total brilliance, so what someone needs to do is grab them all and perhaps edit all their good moments into one big feature and then we have a movie to talk about!
Wait you say? But they all had different characters? Seriously, they all so alike, would we really tell the difference?
Sanatorium is a by the book Found Footage horror that passes the time away and that’s about it. A good final shot (just after the credits start to roll) adds a bit of nasty to the overall plot, and also an extra boo for having a storyline of a pregnancy alongside that DVD cover, when in reality, it has nothing to do with the film.
Strictly for fans only……………..