Asylum (2008)

Asylum (2008)

Once you’re in, you can never get out.

A new college student discovers that her dorm was once an asylum for mentally disturbed teenagers who were subject to harsh treatments at the hands of Dr Burke. It isn’t long before she and her new friends break into an old restricted area of the building and awaken the spirit of the mad doctor who proceeds to terrorise them with memories of their troubled pasts.


I couldn’t get Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors out my head whilst I was watching Asylum. It’s pretty obvious that the writers couldn’t either because most of this dismal supernatural slasher film plays like a bad copy of it. The recent Boogeyman 2 did the same thing with a maniac killing teenagers in a hospital ward using their fears against them but at least it did it better. This one simply shifts the action to a college dorm but the killer is still a mad doc and for some reason he has supernatural powers. From the moment Dr Burke comes on the screen, I could sense that the guys who made this were hankering for some sort of horror icon or franchise. I’ve got one thing to say to them – it isn’t going to happen anytime soon!

Asylum starts out decent enough with a group of freshman finding out that their dorm was once a mental asylum and this had potential for all sorts of weird goings on (like House on Haunted Hill for instance where the characters constantly see ghostly re-enactments of horrific torture scenes). But as soon as the mad doctor is revealed to be still around, it all just goes to the dogs. Actually it went to the dogs before that with the introduction of some of the characters, all of whom have some painful back story that they are trying to hide. What are the chances that a group of six friends, all with troubled pasts, are put into the same college dorm as each other? At least Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors and Boogeyman 2 had the films set inside nuthouses so that there was a reason for them all to be together.

On the positive side, Sarah Roemer is hot. But alas this is a teen horror film so it’s not going to get any better than seeing her in cute t-shirts and jeans. Travis Van Winkle also has a few decent lines as the jock but it’s not worth watching the film for. The problem is that it’s just too cheesy and doesn’t know whether to play itself as a ghost story or a slasher and ends up in the messy middle.

The main star of the show is Burke, the ghostly mad doctor. The script has him doing supernatural things like disappearing at will and conjuring up dream-like visions to kill his victims but then in the next breath, it has some of the characters lock him out of a room by barricading the door and also take him down with a heavy object to the back of the head. Mark Ralston needs a new agent. He’s got one of those instantly recognisable faces but one of those where you can’t put a name to it. Well for all of you out there, he was Pvt. Drake from Aliens (the male marine who hung around that dude-like chick marine and had acid blown into his face when an alien was shot at close range). Watch it again and you’ll know him. Anyway, he’s pretty dire in this but I can’t really blame him when the script has him growl things like “give me your suffering” time and time again. The guy preaches about pain and suffering like Pinhead and even dresses up in some out-of-context S&M outfit towards the end. He also kills people in stupid dream-like visions like Freddy Kruger did. Is this the best that the writers could come up with?


Asylum is a really bad supernatural slasher-by-numbers film that retreads the same lousy routine over-and-over again and features one of the worst villains I’ve seen for a long time. And to think, director Davis R. Ellis followed Snakes on a Plane with this trash.





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