Asylum David R. Ellis

Liberally borrowing elements from later Elm Street entries and featuring a less obese, S&M-style Dr. Giggles, Asylum is alarmingly bad and almost certain to generate unintentional laughs at the expense of Ethan Lawrence’s embarrassing script. Attempts to give psychological baggage to the barrage of stock horror cliché characters are groan-inducing at best and the juvenile humour peppered with dick and poo jokes does little to ameliorate this. Asylum succeeds only in offering some curious neon lighting and unnecessarily gratuitous boobie shots for the target demo. Soon after arriving at her new dormitory digs, Madison (Sarah Roemer) meets shaggy-haired, dime-a-dozen hunk-o-rama Holt (Jake Muxworthy), vapid whore Ivy (Ellen Hollman), socially retarded String (Cody Kasch), arrogant loudmouth Tommy (Travis Van Winkle) and feisty Latina Maya (Carolina Garcia). When the gang bond over booze and a mutual hatred of their RA Rez (Randall Sims), they learn that a locked wing of their fancy new dormitory was once an insane asylum that was under the charge of a kooky doctor (Mark Rolston), who liked to perform violent experiments on his patients. Their decision to explore the locked wing backfires when the very corporeal ghost of the long dead doctor escapes to "cure” their emotional demons. With Ellis’s background in creating effectively tense situations in relatively crappy films (Cellular, Snakes on a Plane) it is surprising how disengaging Asylum is. The excessive use of low, candid angles throughout creates an unprofessional and distracting dynamic that further alienates an already uninterested audience; it feels rushed and unplanned. In addition, the performances from the fresh-faced cast range from bad to downright irritating (Van Winkle). Carolina Garcia fares the best, giving some humanity to her stereotypical character, but she’s unable to move beyond passable given the material. Aside from these structural weaknesses, Asylum is essentially a horror film with no scares, unoriginal kills and a lame villain. The most unfortunate aspect about the film is that it isn’t quite bad enough to reach Troll 2 cult status; it shares more similarities with a forgettable Puppet Master or Watchers sequel. (Fox)