Monday, December 30, 2013

Sanitarium (2013) - Where Amicus Anthologies Come to Die

For a movie that didn't stun me, I'm content to say that 2013's Sanitarium looked really great. It follows the latest trend of cramming three stories into one movie in a sort of anthology picture with common thread. In this instance the back drop is sanitarium. This would beg the question as to whether the filmmakers had seen Amicus' Asylum and decided that they'd adopt their own modern day version of the wrap story from that particular film. While Amicus anthology pictures of the late 60's and early 70's tended to be most on point, straight forward adaptations of a short, scary stories, Sanitarium attempts to reinvent the wheel with strange tales of madness, wholly un-ordinary though perhaps worse for it. It's not poorly put together by any means, but this has been done and better.

Synposis from Image:

Abandon everything you’ve ever believed about that brittle concept we call “reality” and prepare to enter a macabre netherworld of shadows, fiends and phantoms - a twisted realm of waking nightmares and warped minds, locked away in unrelenting torment. Welcome to the Sanitarium. Behind the walls of the Sanitarium, Dr. Stenson holds dominion over the inmates of a most unusual asylum.


The highlight of the collection of three tales is the performance by Lou Diamond Phillips who really should step out of his dark dank closet more often to grace the screen, especially in a horror picture. I can't tell you just how much I enjoyed him in The First Power as a kid. So keep an eye out for him. The let down? Robert Englund's role sort of keeps him away from the screen, wasting his talent in the corner. Malcolm McDowell on the other hand seems to be revisiting a role that he's played before as a psychologist. It suits him well and his performance is solid.

There's some strong imagery but without strong stories to back up the creative aesthetic that was supposed to really impress the audience save for the story featuring Phillips which is more passable than the other two.

Sanitarium will divide its audience, and even in conversation's since watching it, I've already found a few folks who truly enjoyed the movie, but I'm afraid I am not one of them this time around. I still think it's worth a watch though because maybe the shiny darkness of the thing will give you the creepies and the crazies of the Sanitarium might be the kind you're looking for. For a newer anthology picture it has the most sensible of wrap around stories which seems to be a sore spot for pictures trying to entomb short films. One last thing, I do not want to see this film marketed as a Trilogy of Terror again. Karen Black doesn't need to share that movie title with Sanitarium's tagline department.

You can pick up Sanitarium now!

-Doc Terror

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