Stonehearst Asylum (2014) reviews and overview

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‘When you have found a thing a man fears most, you will have discovered the key to his madness.’

Stonehearst Asylum is a 2014 American horror mystery feature film directed by Brad Anderson (Session 9) for Millennium Entertainment from a screenplay by Joseph Gangemi (Fear Itself, Wind Chill) based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether. 

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The movie stars Kate Beckinsale, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Caine, Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley, David Thewlis, Jason Flemyng, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Sinéad Cusack, Edmund Kingsley, Velizar Binev, Christopher Fulford, Guillaume Delaunay, Anton Poriazov and Robert Hands.

Plot:

A recent medical school grad who takes a position at a mental institution soon finds himself taken with one of his colleagues, though he has no initial idea of a recent, horrifying staffing change…

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

‘Kingsley evokes both Vincent Price and Donald Pleasence – and, indeed, his own performance in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island – as the charismatic, cracked Lamb, while Beckinsale makes for a strong-willed gothic heroine, Sturgess makes a great deal of the traditionally thankless young hero role and there are credible turns from David Thewlis as a Bill Sikes-type character and Brendan Gleeson, Jason Flemyng and Sinead Cusack as 19thcentury alienists.’ Screen Daily

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‘Just trust me when I say nothing will prepare you for the twisted finale, which moves the setting to lush, sunny Italy, where more madness awaits. Elegantly costumed and photographed, stealthily directed with a maximum of suspense and solidly acted, this is the best madhouse movie since Bedlam. The prediction is true: nothing at Stonehearst Asylum will ever be the same, and neither will you.’  Observer

‘It’s content to simmer until it boils away all suspense, leaving only the suggestion of something more complicated, complex (thematically), and compelling. It’s a curious development; I enjoyed watching the movie, felt pleasantly surprised by the narrative twists — I’m easy to fool, evidently — and grooved on the sincerity and depth of emotions offered by the entire cast.’ Twitch Film

Stonehearst Asylum PHOTO CREDIT: Simon Varsano

‘There’s something more disappointing about seeing great parts that don’t cohere into an interesting sum than a film that never could have worked at all. Seeing legends like Kingsley, Michael Caine and David Thewlis in a Poe adaptation should have been a genre highlight of the year, and could have really been the film to make Brad Anderson a household name. Time will earn Brad Anderson the praise he deserves. And time will forget this film exists.’ RogerEbert.com

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Stonehearst Asylum has a lot going for it: great actors, solid direction and a chilling Victorian atmosphere. Sadly, in execution, the film doesn’t quite deliver. Rather than taking Edgar Allan Poe’s original short story and expanding it into something unique, the film relies on repetitive plot points and tired tropes to pad out the narrative. While parts of the movie are enjoyable (thanks mostly to the cast’s showy performances), the overall product is a disappointment, especially considering its base assets.’ IGN

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Screen shot 2015-02-16 at 14.08.37

Filming locations:

Bulgaria

Release:

Stonehearst Asylum received an October 24th release in US cinemas and VOD platforms, just in time for Halloween.

Trivia:

The film was originally titled Eliza Graves. 

  

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