EXETER aka THE ASYLUM (2015) Reviews and overview

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‘An excellent day for an exorcism’

Exeter is a 2015 American supernatural horror feature film directed by Marcus Nispel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake; FrankensteinFriday the 13th remake) from a screenplay by Kirsten Elms, based on Nispel’s storyline. It was formerly known as Backmask and was released in the UK as The Asylum.

The movie stars Gage Golightly, Brittany Curran, Stephen Lang, Kelly Blatz, Kevin Chapman, Brett Dier and Nick Nicotera.

Special makeup effects were provided by Shaun Smith (Killjoy; Dawn of the Dead; The Cabin in the Woods).


Exeter aka The Asylum is a demonic possession film about a bunch of teenagers that think it’s a good idea to party in an abandoned mental asylum. Unbeknown to them, the patients suffered torturous abuse at the hands of doctors.

Patrick (Kelly Blatz) and his friends remain after the party, along with Patrick’s younger brother, Rory (Michael Ormsby). With the building’s susceptibility to paranormal phenomena, the group attempt to levitate Rory and it seems to work, but they dismiss it as a prank. When he starts acting violently and speaking in tongues, they’re convinced that he’s possessed and call Father Conway (Stephen Lang) for help, who Patrick was supposed to be helping renovate the site.

When Rory kills the local junk man, Brian and Amber (Gage Golightly) try to escape in the car but end up running Conway down. In their panic, they return to Exeter and the security system locks everyone in. The teens perform a DIY exorcism on Rory, but then gradually become possessed one by one.

Coming from the producers of Insidious and Paranormal Activity, expectations for a story reliant on atmosphere and predicable jump scares are blown apart with Amber’s possession. This is where director Marcus Marcus Nispel (Friday the 13th, 2009 and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2003) puts his spin on things with a fun-filled fest of punctured eyeballs, caved in heads and blood-drenched hacking and slashing.


Patrick and Reign (Brittany Curran) find old videotapes of Exeter that document Conway’s daughter, Devon, who they contact through a Ouija board. Once Devon is freed, they discover that Conway hid her at the asylum after her mother committed suicide because he abandoned them both. Devon swore revenge on her father and his associates, and it’s left to Patrick to trap her.

Exeter is an unusual addition to the paranormal genre, although slots perfectly into the setting of an abandoned mental asylum. The enemies are mindless killing machines and the characters themselves, while typical of boisterous teenagers, don’t come across as irritating or forced. With great special effects, this turn-off-your-brain horror flick is a fun watch for the gruesome-minded.

Rae Louise, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

“One pleasing touch is the use of light which gradually shifts colour and angle over the course of the story, so we get an ominous sense that night is closing in again despite there being no dialogues about it. The sound work is also good, helping to make standard growls and screams go a little further. Most importantly, though, the teenagers really feel like teenagers…” Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

“What started out as your typical, “idiot kids act disrespectful, stir up some trouble, then try to fix said trouble by being even more disrespectful” was turned on its head by a heaping dose of a humor and plenty of unexpected, loving middle-fingers to the genre.” Horror Honeys

Buy DVD: Amazon.co.uk

“By working in Bay’s shadow, it seems that Nispel has acquired his sledgehammer mentality, with almost everything shot without subtlety or grace. Along with this is that relentless, dizzying fast cutting, coupled with a camera that never holds its position; it should come with a warning for motion sickness sufferers.” Dave Wain, The Schlock Pit

Cast and characters:

  • Gage Golightly … Amber
  • Brittany Curran … Reign
  • Stephen Lang … Father Conway
  • Kelly Blatz … Patrick
  • Kevin Chapman … Greer
  • Brett Dier … Brad
  • Nick Nicotera … Brian Knowles
  • Nick Nordella … Drew
  • Michael Ormsby … Rory
  • Cristian Alvizures
  • John Timothy Botka … Cop

Filming locations:

Rhode Island, New York


Exeter premiered at the Glasgow Horror Film Festival in February 27, 2015. It was released on July 2nd, 2015, on DirecTV Cinema.

The film was released on DVD in the UK as The Asylum on 4 May 2015 by Studiocanal.

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