Review: Stonehearst Asylum

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stonehearst-asylum posterOkay, if you’re only going to see one scary movie this year, or if you just feel like a good chilling fright around Halloween, I recommend that you chose Stonehearst Asylum, a gaudy, gory, gothic horror of a film with an all star cast including Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, Brendan Gleason and David Thewlis, plus lots of thunder and lightening in all the right spots. And since it’s one of the few films of the genre that’s rated PG-13, you know it’s not excessively macabre.

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” Stonehearst Asylum is a dark tale that takes place at the tun of last century. A handsome med school graduate (Sturgess) shows up at the Stonehearst Asylum looking for an apprenticeship, and the superintendent (Kingsley) takes him under his wing, showing him his very peculiar practices for treating the asylum residents. Lurking about is a beautiful but troubled (is there any other kind?) young woman (Beckinsale) harboring dark secrets…as does everyone else. No one is whom they appear to be in this film with enough twists, turns and frolicking loonies to keep even the most digitally driven Millennial entertained.

Director Brad Anderson, who is known best for his TV work on shows like The Killing, Boardwalk Empire and Fringe, uses a deft hand so that it’s fun scary, rather than gross scary, and horrifying rather than terrifying.

Stonehearst Asylum is opening in just a handful of theaters this weekend, but it’s also available, starting Oct. 31, on VOD. It’s the perfect film to stream with your sweetie after the trick-or-treaters have all come and gone. You can have a happy, frightening Halloween without even leaving the house.

Rated PG 13

1 Hour 52 Minutes

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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