Crazy she calls me.
Stonehearst Asylum (Eliza Graves) (2014): 6 out of 10: An all-star cast (Kate Beckinsale, Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, etc) take on a Poe tale about an asylum for the mentally deranged which may not be as it seems. Into this Asylum comes a new doctor (Jim Sturgess) starting his practice who quickly shakes the apple cart as he finds himself obsessing about a woman (Beckinsale) even though she is a patient there.
The Good: The acting is solid all the way around. Neither Caine nor Kingsley sleepwalks their way to a paycheck. An activity both (particularly Kingsley) have been guilty of on occasion. (The prosecutor would like to put into states evidence Jaws: The Revenge and BloodRayne). David Thewlis, however, takes his character to the next level. He outshines his peers in a wonderfully nuanced and menacing performance.
The production values are also top-notch, with delightful Victorian costumes and furnishings. The whole film has a wonderful polished period-perfect look.
The Bad: I have a hard time figuring out if Jim Sturgess as the main protagonist is miscast or if his character is simply miswritten. The movie holds some cards so close to the vest that, while certain characterizations make sense in hindsight, it doesn’t negate the fact that on the surface Sturgess’ doctor simply seems off. Since he is our main protagonist who is in almost every scene and who is the stand-in for the audience it can make for a frustrating viewing experience.
The Ugly: The movie keeps up the facade that the new doctor mustn’t find out the secret. Even though the new doctor figures it out well before the first act is done. I mean it is as obvious as Ric Ocasek dressed as a woman. Mr. Magoo wouldn’t be fooled for long. It creates a weird tension where the New Doctor must not reveal he figured it out even as the evidence piles up in front of him. It is a great idea in a way but the tension never seems to build as it should. It instead comes across as silly.
In Conclusion: Well there are no ghosts in the movie and for this I am thankful. I feared ghosts based on the story synopsis and poster art. There is also a great ending (almost a stinger) that almost saves the movie. Unfortunately, the film that precedes the ending simply never seems to be able to create tension, horror, pathos or romance that keeps one invested in the proceedings. The romance between Sturgess’ new doctor and Beckinsale’s mental patient seems creepy, wrong and something out of middle school. The horror is non-existent. Despite Thewlis’s performance, the tension seems to drain out of every scene. So much talent and yet it simply never gels. An okay film that with the talent involved, simply should have been better.