Stonehearst Asylum Reviews
The Good: The acting is solid all the way around. Neither Caine nor Kingsley sleepwalk 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 4 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 basically non-existent. Despite Thewlis 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.
Dr. Salt (Michael Caine) and Mrs. Pike warn Newgate that Lamb is a dangerous madman - a surgeon who murdered his patients during wartime...
Rotten Tomatoes consensus reads: "Stonehearst Asylum offers over-the-top fun for genre aficionados; for others, however, it's likely to prove a dull disappointment." Common criticism for the film centered upon what the reviewers felt was the film's failure to live up to its full potential, considering its atmosphere and all-A-list cast. The Los Angeles Times wrote, "On the surface, Anderson seems to have all the necessary pieces for a surreal psycho pop. But the fear factor eludes him, leaving "Stonehearst Asylum" more insipid than insane." Film Journal International and The A.V. Club both praised the film for its themes; the reviewer for Film Journal International wrote, "While the film lacks the macabre humor of the original story, it does an excellent job of conveying the creeping horror of Victorian medicine."
"Stonehearst Asylum" has an ok period piece storyline loosely based on the short story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" by Edgar Allan Poe. There´s twists which I like and we get a solid cast with Kate Beckinsale (always nice to see the lovely Kate Beckinsale), Ben Kingsley, David Thewlis and Michael Caine. Director Brad Anderson manages to create a macabre gothic vibe with a scary insight into Victorian medicine and everything that came with it. There´s entertainment value in "Stonehearst Asylum", but I am not fully convinced with the ending.
methods of treating the insane until a series of unusual events leads him to make a horrifying discovery, exposing Lamb's utopia and pushing Newgate to the limits of his conscience.