Director – Brad Anderson
Cast – Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon, Josh Lucas, Brendon Sexton III, Paul Guilfoyle
Release Year – 2001
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Here is a film that I have passed over at least 100 times at the video store over the course of almost a decade. I am not sure why it took me so long to see this film, especially because I had heard many good things about this film in the past about this film being really scary. Although I was never really scared during this film, it sure is creepy and I enjoyed it for the most part.
The film follows Gordon(Peter Mullan) and Phil(CSI Miami star David Caruso) who together run a contractual asbestos cleaning crew. After winning the bid to clean up a huge abandoned insane asylum, things get awry once they begin work in the facility and the horrific events of the past begin coming back.
This film is one that relies mainly on atmosphere, and story to get by. We watch as the horrific past of the insane asylum takes effect over “the weak and the wounded”, in a beautifully done storyline that left me guessing even at the end, until I “put it all together”. I really enjoy that in films, and this film is quite unconventional for a “horror” film due to that notion. There is one thing I must warn you about though…this film is SLOW. At first it seems problematic, especially if you are like me and all you heard about this film was “how scary it is“. However once the film is completed you then realize how beautifully crafted this film is, and why it needs to be slow in order to have it’s effect on you.
The cinematography is amazing in this film, and the long panning shots of the abandoned hallways in the asylum leave you to wonder how awful and dark this place must have been for those who were sequestered in it. I really liked how each person involved in the cleaning crew was slowly drawn into their own sense of madness. I wont give too much of this film away due to spoilers, but you will soon realize in this film how someone not in the best state of mind can easily go crazy in a place like this. I also really loved the scenes involving the sessions a doctor recorded with a child suffering from multiple personality disorder. Although we never get to really see much into what happened with the child, just hearing what went on, and how wide ranging her “personalities” are is creepy enough.
There is not much I didn’t like about this film. I admit that this film is slow, and that may not be enjoyable for those of us who want to watch something “entertaining”. My best advice for those of you who are going to view this film is to watch it with an open mind, and then if you still don’t understand it(which you most likely wont, no offense…it even took me a while!)…contact me and I will explain it to you, or you can simply look up discussion boards for the film online. Once explained, you will realize how amazing and crazy this film actually is. Don’t you just love surprises?
Overall, this is an interesting film and definitely put writer/director Brad Anderson on the map for horror/thriller films. Check this out if you want to see a good psychological thriller, or if you want to see good old Mr. One-Liner himself David Caruso before his CSI Miami fame.