Asylum of the Damned

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

James Bishop (Matt Stasi) is a young man with a bright future, as he is intelligent, kind, and seeks to help others. He is a psychology resident at St. Andrew’s Mental Hospital, a position he just earned and is thrilled to have. The institution is home to countless mentally ill patients, some in much worse condition than others. To James, that means he can lend his skills to numerous folks and try to help them with their problems. The road is not a simple or quick one, but he is patient and has a real drive to do his best. In his mind, he wants to help everyone he can to the fullest extent he can, as if he could save the entire world himself. His outlook is grand and perhaps naive, but he plans to do whatever can to help at St. Andrew’s. As a little time passes, he starts to become curious about the deaths of some of his patients. The deaths were quite mysterious and unexplained, but he knows the answers have to exist. As more and more patients pass on under strange circumstances, he takes a more active role in uncovering the truth. While he seeks out answers, his coworkers start to behave in unusual patterns, which makes him even more concerned. When James has an encounter with a creature known as The Harvester, he understands the horrific deaths, but can he discover a way to restore order to St. Andrew’s?

As a devoted disciple of horror cinema, I will seek out all the eerie movies I can find, both in theaters and on home video. Even if the flick looks bad, I give it a spin to see for myself, as I never want to miss out on a decent horror picture. So while I didn’t have high hopes for Asylum of the Damned, it earned an audition in my home theater. As it turns out, I wouldn’t have missed much if I had skipped this one, as Asylum of the Damned just plain sucks. The actual institution location is superb and could have been a great foundation to build on, but instead, we’re thrown in constant darkness and expected to be spooked. You need more than shadows and dark hallways to create atmosphere, but no one told director Phil Jones. He wastes his prime location with pointless darkness, as we’re never scared in the least, thanks to the lack of atmosphere. If Jones spent more time on visual design, the darkness could have been a blanket of fear for the audience, but no, he chose to just hope we’d all be afraid of some shadows. The story is lame too, the same basic formula we’ve seen countless times before. I don’t expect innovation on a grand scale, but some subtle touches would have helped a lot in this case. I can’t recommend Asylum of the Damned as a purchase, but if you’re a genre buff, then a rental would be justified.

Video: How does it look?

Asylum of the Damned is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This might be a direct to video release of a low budget monster movie, but Columbia’s work on the transfer is excellent, so the movie looks awesome. The image is very clean and shows no real flaws, even the print is totally devoid of grain or other debris. The dark scenes have stark contrast and superb detail level, while daytime sequences are bright and just as impressive. I suppose we should have expected a clean presentation, since the movie moved right to home video, but I had some doubts about how good this movie would look here. But Columbia has proven those doubts to be wrong, as this movie looks terrific in this release.

Audio: How does it sound?

The soundtrack here is a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, but it isn’t the kind of knockout soundtrack some might expect. The dark atmosphere factor allows some eerie and tense moments, which are well implemented, but this is mostly a basic, unremarkable soundtrack. A few scenes spark up the speakers, with some decent “in the dark” atmosphere, though not enough to warrant any special mentions. The track is solid and covers all the bases, it simply doesn’t move much beyond the expected basics. I found dialogue to be well handled also, as vocals are clear and never muffled in the least. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitle options in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s promotional trailer.

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