A well acted and well written scarer.

by Martin Hafer

I loved Stonehearst Asylum and consider it among the best films I’ve seen recently. However, why I like it probably isn’t the reason you’d like the film. As a retired therapist and psychology teacher, I love films that talk about the history of mental-health treatment, and this film is set during the bad old days of mental-health treatment–when asylums were practically houses of horror. Add to this that the film is based loosely (very loosely) on an Edgar Allen Poe story and you’ve got most of what you’d need to capture my interest.  Fortunately, the film also works when it comes to the acting–and there are some really terrific performances.

Stonehearst Asylum
Directed by
Brad Anderson
Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley
Release Date
24 October 2014
Martin’s Grade: A

The film is set at Stonehearst–a mental hospital in the middle of nowhere.  The place is a fancy asylum for folk with lots of money. When a new doctor (Jim Sturgess) turns up at Stonehearst, it soon becomes painfully clear to him that the man who runs the place (Ben Kingsley) just ain’t right.

Exactly what the problem is … well, you’ll have to find that out for yourself as I would really hate to spoil the film. There are many dark secrets and twists that should catch you by surprise.  Add to the equation the acting of Kate Beckinsale, a nice cameo by Michael Caine and a rather strong cast who all give great performances.

This movie is a terrific horror film, but not the sort of horror one might expect. There are no supernatural or inexplicable elements, just a lot of malevolence, menace and a complete loss of control.

I’d say more…but as I mentioned above, I really don’t want to spoil your viewing experience. Suffice to say that this is a very well made film, with a very strong story that will appeal to adults. 

Well worth your time.