THE ASYLUM (2015)
Formerly known as Backmask
Directed by Marcus Nispel
THE ASYLUM is a teen horror from Marcus Nispel, director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes. Formerly known as Backmask and known as Exeter in the U.S., THE ASYLUM focuses on an old abandoned asylum in the town of Exeter that was home to some disturbing incidents indeed. Young patients of the asylum became inmates as they were treated like prisoners, experimented on and put down instead of being helped. All the abuse came to a sudden end when a fire ripped through the building, killing those inside. Since that fateful day, the asylum has been empty… until now. Father Conway decides to restore the building and seeks help from various builders and one of his parishioners, Patrick, a teenager who’s friends think the empty building is the perfect venue for a wild party fuelled by booze and drugs and the odd bit of spiritual dabbling.
Kelly Blatz stars as Patrick, the hero and main character of the group. His calm and level-headedness makes him the obvious leader of the group, especially when it’s his own brother, the mischievious Rory (Michael Ormsby), who’s the subject of possession. He’s joined by Reign (Brittany Curran), a smart but cool girl he met at the party the night before, and best friend Brian (Nick Nicotera) who organised the huge party against Patrick’s wishes. Teen couple Brad (Brett Dier) and Amber (Gage Golightly) are also on the scene for some drug-fuelled, mobile phone strip Russian roulette at the old asylum with Drew (Nick Nordella), the dopey, stoned character of the group, who spends his time running around in his underwear as though he’s channeling Notting Hill’s Rhys Ifans.
The opening of the film is fairly strong for a teen movie with a mysterious plotline regarding the past of the asylum and its residents. It almost feels like Session 9 albeit with teenagers but that soon unravels when it descends into slasher-based survival horror territory. The cast initially make for a great mixture of characters but they soon become monotonous, squealing personalities, nothing but fodder for the evil lurking inside the asylum.
For horror fans, there’s some cool and inventive death scenes displayed in The Asylum but the camera work and editing make them not much more than mere glimpses, except for one particular standout scene towards the end of the movie. The film even pays homage to The Exorcist with a possessed victim recreating Regan’s spiderwalk. The entire movie feels like a tribute to particular horror films from years gone by rather than being a film that can stand up on its own two feet. It’s disappointing because the film showed promise in the early stages, but it quickly threw it out the window to become something mediocre which we’ve seen a million times before and executed better.
Depending on what you’re looking for in a horror movie, you might find The Asylum an enjoyable watch in a switch-your-brain-off type of way, but those looking for a horror offering something unique and terrifying will find nothing special here.