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Stonehearst Asylum

Lamb's unorthodox methods surprise Newgate. Lamb says that he does not believe in drugging or incarcerating patients, and he encourages their delusions when he feels it will bring them greater happiness. As an example Lamb makes Newgate examine volatile Arthur Timbs, whose family sold to a sideshow, without any sedatives but just using his eyes, with Newgate managing to calm Timbs down. Newgate becomes infatuated with Graves. During a fancy feast, Newgate and Finn argue, and, as a truce, Finn proposes a toast. Before Newgate can drink it, Graves causes him to spill his drink and quietly insists that he flee the asylum, but Newgate refuses to leave without her.

Stonehearst Asylum

During the New Year's celebration, Finn murders a female patient, who is carried away by Timbs. Convinced that something must be done, Newgate attempts to spike the champagne. He is caught and Lamb prepares Newgate for electric shock therapy. Newgate reveals to Graves that he came to the asylum to rescue her once he saw her at the Oxford demonstration. Lamb grants Newgate a final request: to see a picture of Graves that he keeps in his pocket. When the picture turns out to be one of Lamb's victims, the shock causes Lamb to stagger out of the room in a daze. Finn attempts to take control, but Graves and Newgate lead a revolt against him, as the other patients have become scared of his violent nature.

Some time later, Graves' husband and the earlier Oxford professor arrive to be greeted by Timbs now the new gatekeeper. The professor asks for Mrs. Graves' release, but Mrs. Pike says that Newgate already released her. The Oxford professor reveals that he is actually Dr. Edward Newgate, and the man they knew is an escaped mental patient with pseudologia fantastica. Upon hearing this, Lamb (playing chess with Salt) becomes amused and stifles a laugh in front of both visitors. Mrs. Graves and the imposter Newgate are shown in Tuscany, Italy, where they are known as Dr. and Mrs. Lamb. The two dance happily and embrace in the garden of what appears to be another asylum, run peacefully by nuns.

Parents need to know that Stonehearst Asylum is a thriller based on the Edgar Allan Poe story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether." Violence isn't particularly gory or extreme, but the movie does have some disturbing images of the inside of an asylum, as well as some fighting, death, weapons, and extreme "cures" (including water torture and a "nausea machine"). A female patient seduces a guard with kisses, and the moment leads to violence. There's some general flirting and affection between the male and female leads. Set in 1899, the language is archaic and includes the English affectations of "shite" and "fecking." Characters drink and smoke cigars in a background way, and knockout drugs ("Mickey Finns") are used in alcoholic beverages. Heroin is mentioned as medicine for hysteria. The movie is OK for stalwart teens, though horror hounds will be disappointed by the lack of gore; this movie is more about atmosphere and ideas than screams.

Brad Anderson (Happy Accidents, The Call) is one of our most reliable genre filmmakers; he rarely makes anything great, but, likewise, he rarely makes anything truly bad. Adapting the Edgar Allan Poe story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" with screenwriter Joe Gangemi, Anderson creates an immersive universe in the beautifully designed asylum. It's much like the modern-day asylum in his terrific Session 9 (2001), a three-dimensional space with a grim, sinister personality of its own.

A nice, very southern gothic horror take to asylum genre, where romance takes the center stage as the location that was built to help people with some mental issue ends up being mistreated by people who might be much insane than the patience themselves.

Blows its mystery load rather early, and then in the final moment manages to deliver on the same twist that every asylum movie ever delivers on. This isn't to say it's a terrible movie; the location is nice and it's well shot, and the performances are all decent with momentary glimpses of real quality, particularly from Kingsley. But it kind of struggles to stand out, and the stakes feel low at times, with the core cast feeling pretty safe. It's okay; maybe just a bit more than okay at times, I suppose, but not consistently.

When Newgate encounters Eliza Graves (after whom the film is named in roughly half of the release countries, confusingly), he becomes infatuated with her, as she seems like she does not belong in the asylum. Having been committed to Stonehearst Asylum by her husband, after violently assaulting him, Eliza is the most well-adjusted patient there, even though she is suffering from hysteria. At dinner that evening, Eliza comes to him, warning him to leave as soon as possible as it is not safe there. Newgate chooses to stay however, as he cannot bear to leave her. One night, he hears knocking coming from the basement and makes a shocking discovery.

Visually, Stonehearst Asylum is a very beautiful film, bringing together all the elements we imagine a Victorian asylum would be. With period costumes and Gothic interiors, it is a polished and fitting period piece. But it is this polish that makes it a bit too clean a film. It is not clinical enough to give a chilling effect, yet not macabre enough to offer horrific atmosphere. 041b061a72


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