08 December 2014

Stonehearst Asylum (2014)

If you don't want to read it all:
Score: 6/10
Verdict: It's got a good idea, but it fails to surprise after all

Honestly, I never heard of this one being made at all. I decided to watch it just because I saw Kate Beckinsale was in it. Honest! Then I saw some other big European names (namely Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine, who seems to be everywhere lately) and decided to give it a shot. Here are my thoughts (short and mostly spoiler free).

Stonehearst Asylum is based on "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether", a short story written by the magnificent Edgar Allan Poe. The story and the movie share a lot, but they are not the same. If you are familiar with the story you might get the idea about the movie itself, and if you are not... Well, I won't spoil it for you.

It's 1899 and mental illness is being treated in monstrous ways. The movie begins with the scene at Oxford university where a local professor demonstrates madness on a sedated woman in front of senior students. It continues with a young doctor arriving at the Asylum a few days before the new year. He meets with the doctors and staff at the asylum and asks for permission to study the patients at their hospital. He also finds their methods a bit... unusual, but the real "threat" uncovers itself a little bit later.

I can't shake off the feeling that this movie is about 25-30 years too late. If it was made in the late 80's it would have been an instant classic (with a few modifications, of course), but it's just plain average in this era. The story IS good (it's made after a Poe's story after all), but it seems to me as if it was a bit rushed. There was no time to develop a connection with the main character(s) before the story unveiled itself and started a sprint towards the end. And that is kind of weird because the movie takes 110 minutes. As a result, you are left emotionless after the end credits, even though the producers had something else in mind. At least I hope they did - it would prove that they actually cared, but simply failed to create what they initially wanted to.

I would have given it 5 out of 10, but Kate is here so that's a plus one from me. And Kingsley had a brilliant performance, as always. Six it is.

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