Monday, August 23, 2010


Let’s face it, we all have out own personal weaknesses. Every last person reading this has some kind of movie that they like a good deal more than they honestly should, and for me, two of those are zombie movies and horror movies set in insane asylums. Which brings us to today, where I bring for your consideration a film that gives us zombies running around inside an insane asylum. It’s like a perfect storm of trying to discover what will make me squeal with joy.
Of course, it helps a lot that the film itself is actually pretty damn good as well, or I would certainly not be demanding that you all check it out (well, I probably still would, but I wouldn’t respect myself for it). The film stars Jesse Metcalfe as Jack, a young man whose sister has been admitted into a mental asylum after attempting suicide, and after being told over the phone that he’s not allowed to see her, decides his only option is to get himself committed to the same asylum so that he can then break both of them out. If that sounds suspiciously similar to the original plot of Prison Break, then don’t worry, because writer/director Jeff Buhler decided to run with it, and threw in Peter Stormare in as the villainous head doctor so you’d feel right at home.

Stormare is clearly up to no good here, not just because, y’know, he’s Peter Stormare, but because he’s testing out an experimental new treatment on his inmates called Orpheum, which he believes will work on everyone regardless of their own personal type of madness because, rather than being a drug, it releases an army of nanites into the body to transform the patient into being a more productive member of society. While this provides an initial great visual cue of who is taking the treatment when their eyes start looking all weird and robot-like, it later acquires the even greater visual cue when everyone on it starts developing an insatiable craving for living flesh, a craving that gets a delightfully gruesome outlet when Stormare gets all pissy and short circuits all the power in the building.

Probably the most notable facet of the movie (aside from the utterly ridiculous and fairly retarded plot) is how fast-paced it is, and how willing to go as far as possible in every awful direction it can. Need a sex scene? Alright, we’ll have one where Stormare ties up his assistant, cuts her inner thigh with a scalpel, and jams her panties in her mouth. Need to subtly show that the patients are developing a thirst for blood? Why, just have one find a cat out in the yard and yank its damn head off on camera before eating it! Want a semi-famous genre name as an unofficial leader of the simplified, to provide that spark of charisma? Can’t go wrong with DS9 and Buffy’s Armin Shimerman! The last third of the movie is just awash in blood, with people getting killed left and right (usually of the simplified persuasion, though our group of heroes suffers some casualties I was not expecting), so those of you worried that I’ve been spending too much time on moody horror movies rather than gory ones can rest a bit easier.

I only had one real issue with the film, and that is apparently due to how I never watch Attack of the Show. There are two female staffers at the asylum (Olivia Munn and Carla Gallo) that are attractive 20-something women with shoulder-length black hair, similar jobs, and rarely have their names spoken aloud during the film. As such, my first time through the film I had no idea they were two different people until one of them got their arm ripped off (oh, spoiler alert for this past sentence, by the way) around the start of the third act. It may be a somewhat minor point, since neither is such an important character that the film hinges on us being able to tell the difference, but come on. At least give one of them highlights or something.

Still, that is a fairly minor beef, and I suppose if I watched G4 for anything other than Ninja Warrior even that wouldn’t have been a problem for me. Bottom line is, if there had been a little more humor thrown in this would’ve fit in just fine with Peter Jackson’s early horror efforts, and anyone hoping for some nice over-the-top violence should feel right at home here.

Rating; *** ½

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