What makes a good horror movie? Scary Setting? Yes.Simple premise that plays on tension and your fears? Yes. Dumbass hapless victims, despite the blatantly obvious warning signs they still go in the building or perform the ritual that finds them sliced, diced or possessed. These are the basics of an any good horror movie, there is 1001 different option to go on, so what about Marcus Nispel‘s The Asylum?
James Wan (Insidious, The Conjuring) gave horror genre hope, going back to the basics delivering scares whose origins can be found in films from 1970’s and 1980’s. The Babadook, It Follows proved it doesn’t have to be a tangible threat but Psychological one to deliver trepidation to its victims. The Asylum may not be blessed with originality but what it does have, it delivers gory shocks and the notion in the face of death we can laugh at our demise.
The Asylum we meet 6 (pesky) teenagers host a night of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll at the now abandoned infamous Exeter Asylum, closed due to it’s infamous brutality to its criminally insane inhabitants. Despite ignoring the rumours that the tormented souls still walk the halls, the genial hosts went ahead with the party including playing a number of daring games. These games have summoned spirits and a vengeful spirit that causes havoc amongst the group that starts to possess each of them one by one.
I first saw the film at this year Film 4 Glasgow Frighfest (part of the highly underrated Glasgow film festival). our expectations were especially when it got the dreaded Day 1 final film slot. This is a slot that’s usually given to the not so very good films, usually, howlers (Detention of The Dead comes to mind)but The Asylum defied all expectations to deliver gore-tastic fun.
One could argue it’s only one big screen UK outing has set the film up nicely, Frightfesters (and other similar film festivals worldwide) have gained a reputation if a film is a hit or miss. It’s a little like the old reputation of the old Glasgow theatres that the best from stage, screen and variety if you survived the onslaught you have made it. So usually the slot sees a mass exodus of Frighfesters heading back to their hotels or homes, this time everyone stayed.
To a casual viewer The Asylum will be one complete mess, waste of your well earned cash. But let’s picture, it’s Friday (or Saturday) night, your friends are around, the beer is flowing the pizzas have arrived let’s get something on the box. What we get here is a frantically paced genre film that delivers surprises on its victims like a brutal gut punch, but belly laughs for the viewers.Marcus Nispel’s track record in films(Friday 13th, Conan The Barbarian, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) hasn’t been a positive one, but this film delivers the core reason we go to cinemas or buy films to entertain. A film that doesn’t take itself seriously and doesn’t care if it makes them look stupid in the name of entertainment. It ridicules itself that young people have the answer to everything, they’ll find it on their smartphones or tablets. In one of the funniest scenes they have to perform an exorcism, they succeed, but don’t you already know there’s an app for everything?
The Asylum is not exempt from problems, it has a few from pacing to cynical dialogue. As I said earlier it connects with the audience delivering the reason to go to the cinemas or buy DVDs& Blu-rays to be entertained. Blending shock value delivered in a way that made Wes Craven’s Scream a success, making this one of the most absurdly fun films you should add to your horror vault of films.
Paul Devine |★★★1/2
Horror, Thriller |USA, 2013 |18 | 4th May 2015 (UK DVD) | StudioCanal UK |Dir: Marcus Nispel | Stephen Lang,Kelly Blatz,Brittany Curan, Brett Dier, Nick Nicotera, Gage Golightly| Buy:The Asylum [DVD]