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DVD Review: Asylum

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AsylumSo today we have what is a bittersweet occasion; more specifically, it’s the last of the latest round of After Dark horror titles for a while, at least. Even a great series needs a break every so often, and with the chances that we’ve already found the dog in the series high, we can settle in with confidence for “Asylum”, a copy of which our friends at Lionsgate sent out for review.

Asylum” introduces us to a star hostage negotiator who’s always found a way around most any problem with a quick wit and a fast tongue. When he finds himself taking on an insane asylum where the patients have seized control, it’s going to take everything he’s got to talk his way through the mentally disturbed residents. But the farther along he goes, the more he discovers that it may not be the patients he’s got to reason with, but the array of dark forces controlling same. And it may be even harder than he can handle to attempt to negotiate with pure evil. But there are a couple surprises along the way that will make things even more interesting.

First off, I’m not going to spoiler, but I will tell you that there’s a wonderfully meta quality to this that will be oddly hilarious for a good chunk of the movie. The best part is that there are essentially two movies running here; the actual movie and the movie that the movie is about. The movie within the movie watches like a combination of “Resident Evil” and “Asylum Breakout,” which is a pretty welcome combination if it weren’t so spectacularly low budget. The rest of the movie, meanwhile, is a lot like “Episodes” if it had lost its mind early on. That’s a bizarre combination, but here, it’s shockingly effective. It’s action-packed, it’s hilarious, and this odd juxtaposition of horror and comedy is not only unique–I don’t think I’ve seen the like of it yet–but it’s also a surprisingly fun watch.

If there’s anything really wrong with this movie, it’s the ending. But the best part of this is, much of what’s wrong with the movie is intentional. It’s low budget because the head of shooting was a money-grubbing scumbag who got a surprising comeuppance. It’s kind of weak because no one actually had a shooting script in the what I’m guessing is Eastern European country where it was filmed. Even the ending is telegraphed. If there’s something you don’t like in this movie, chances are it’s supposed to be that way, and that’s an exciting development.

Special features include your choice of English and Spanish subtitles and trailers for “Bedlam,” “Sanatorium,” “Housekeeping,” and “Red Clover.”

After Dark put up another winner with “Asylum”; though I was hoping they’d play it a bit straighter than they did, what they put up instead was something truly unique, and that’s quite an achievement in its own right. It may not be the best in the series, but it was a fine way to close out the latest round.

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