Based on the short story 'The System Of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether' by Edgar Allan Poe, 'Stonehearst Asylum' portrays Edward (Jim Sturgess), a young doctor who arrives at Stonehearst Asylum in search, of an apprentice position. He is warmly welcomed by the superintendent, Dr. Lamb (Ben Kingsley) and the mesmerising patient Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale). Edward |then makes a horrifying discovery, exposing Lamb's utopia and proving that no-one is who or what they appear.
What happens when the ones running the asylum are more depraved than the patients? The 2014 film Stonehearst Asylum is based on the work ‘The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether’ by the acclaimed author Edgar Allen Poe. Over one hundred years later, and the story is still compelling. I give this adaptation three out of five stars.
This film follows medical school graduate Edward Newgate (played by Jim Sturgess), who begins work at Stonehearst Asylum - a mental institute. But, as can only be expected, things do not go smoothly, and none of the characters will ever be the same again.
With over one hundred years since the original story was written, you are likely to have heard the plot and know its details. But, if you haven’t yet experienced this work, by all means avoid the trailer, and enjoy the film. Do your best to avoid spoilers, and you are sure to enjoy this work.
Despite some ‘big name stars’ credited in this film, only a few of them play more than a minor role. Though Jim Sturgess, Kate Beckinsale and David Thewlis (all brilliant) play leading roles, the star of the film was undoubtably the brilliant work of Ben Kingsley. He used his talent to bring an interesting character to life, and added to its overall success.
Stonehearst Asylum was directed by Brad Anderson, who, while not having the most extensive directing resume, has shown that he knows what he’s doing.
The same can also be said about writer Joe Gangemi. Though he had the excellent work by Edgar Allen Poe to start from, his screenplay was good, with interesting character and story progression, and intelligent dialogue.
Without a doubt, the location and scenery added to the feel of the film, and did a great job of starting you out feeling uneasy.
Quite surprisingly, this film has not been warmly-received by either audiences or critics. Online and in-print articles and reviews critiqued it for its lack of hard-hitting humour and stuttering pace.
Overall, Stonehearst Asylum is not a film for everyone, but is definitely worth a watch. It is hard to best describe the genre of this film, with a mixture of elements of horror, mystery, and black-humour, among others. It has not been widely advertised, and I had not even heard of it before. So, if you get the chance, check out this film, and see if you can spot the twists and turns before they come.