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DVD Review: Asylum


Now, it's not like I was expecting anything fantastic from a straight-to-DVD horror flick, but holy crap was this one bad! The acting was terrible from the get go, and that's especially bad considering the opening scene was basically just a little girl walking down the dark hallway of her home. My wife and I both looked at each other, and one of us commented that the kid must be related to the director. But then she steps up next to her slightly older brother, and in the dark they both watch their parents arguing in the other room... except I didn't know the parents were actually supposed to be arguing. I thought they were just play acting, maybe rehearsing a scene or putting on a show for the kids for some reason. But then the dad shot himself in the head (off-screen, way to go horror flick") and we're unknowingly fast-forwarded like 15 years to the mom dropping off the girl at college, and providing us with some extremely awkward exposition about how her brother had attended this college and killed himself.

So let me stop here for a moment. First off, this new scene, which came out of nowhere, allowed me to realize that he argument back in the previous scene was supposed to be real. But the acting was just so absolutely terrible in that scene that I could not believe it was legit while watching it. And this is basically what the entire move feels like, because it doesn't get any better. Okay, then we flash forward to the little girl being college age. So why didn't we see her dad kill himself, but leave her brother's suicide to exposition? Even if you didn't have time to add in a new scene, this could have been easily done with jagged, stylish images show during the opening credits sequence. In fact, doing that could have set up the creepiness of the new dorm room which supposedly used to be an old asylum where some crazy doctor tortured teens suspected of being mentally ill. But nope, we learn all this from some awkward exposition told by the computer nerd genius who dug into the history of the new dorm building for some reason. What, he got tired of looking at porn?

So basically of bunch of uber-stereotypical freshman college kids who look like they could be 30-35 years old meet when they attend the orientation for their new dorm. Every single meeting between the characters felt forced and unnatural... just like the characters themselves. Not one felt like a real person, though that can't all be blamed on the acting, as the writing was just as terrible, if not more so. For example, our main female lead walks up to the door to her room and finds a guy just standing there... he's not waiting for her, or anyone else, and he doesn't live in that room, and there are plenty of other doors available that he could be standing in, but somehow he just happens to be in that closed doorway, because being a college student he has nothing better to do that to walk down a hall and pick a random doorway to stand in. Oh, and is kind of a jerk to this girl for no apparent reason at all... and what's worse, she kind of likes it. So then once they meet, he goes away.

The basic plot of the film deals with what most slasher flicks deal with, teenagers getting killed. In this one the bad guy is the crazy doctor I mentioned earlier... except the movie doesn't really know exactly what he is. Apparently, he was killed in a revolt, so he's dead and thus must be a ghost? But no, one of the maintenance guys who's worked there for 20 years says that the doctor is definitely not a ghost. Okay, so a zombie then? Nope, because he can apparently appear anywhere and move through walls. So based on what I've seen, I'd say he's a ghost-zombie. He has a physical body that can turn into a ghost body anytime he wants, except when it would prevent him from getting killed in the end. And his power is making people relive altered scenes from their past, sort of like a dream, except he people know that what they're witnessing can't be real, and they're right, but they also apparently can't wake themselves from this dreamlike state... even though we're shown that they are actually awake.

The violence and gore in this movie is really tame, nothing like Nightmare on Elm Street, which is what this film feels like it is trying to emulate. The plot barely makes sense, the writing is terrible, the acting is terrible, and the overall atmosphere is terrible as well, It feels like neither a real college door environment nor a creepy surreal environment. It feels completely like a movie set, with people that have other jobs and just act in plays as a hobby. So what's good in this movie? Well, there is one scene with a naked chick underwater, in a shower that's filled with water, but not really because it's in her head, but she's hot and underwater and that scene looked cool. And that's about the only thing I can thing of.

Asylum hit stores on July 15, 2008, and unfortunately that's precisely where it should stay. But if you REALLY need to see it, just wait a week or so, as it's sure to be in the bargain bin soon.

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