‘Stonehearst Asylum’ is a horror film set in an asylum in the middle of nowhere, in the “wilderness”, hard to get to and hard to escape from, in the late nineteenth century. There is an eerie, unknowing feel to this film, where you don’t know what is going to happen and you find yourself not sure what to believe or who to trust. As the film proceeds more secrets reveal themselves, but nothing is certain for the audience until the very end, where something is revealed that you will never expect.
All of the characters are excellently played by the actors and actresses. Characters are unsure and not fully explained throughout the film to add an uneasiness to the film. This is especially seen in Mr Finn (David Thewlis) and the head of the asylum, Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley).
‘Stonehearst Asylum’ is about a Dr Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess), who travels to Stonehearst Asylum in hope to finish his training to become a doctor in asylum medicine, travelling from Oxford University. The audience is left unsure what to think when Dr Newgate becomes more fascinated into one patient only, Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale). The connection between these two protagonists makes the film have more aspects into a drama film, however still predominantly a horror. Dr Newgate lands into an asylum that has more secrets than wished for. And therefore, finds himself out of his depths. Additionally, Lamb and the new doctor seem to clash minds in what is happening inside the asylum; but the audience don’t truly know what either of them are thinking.
Many of the scenes are dark with restricted lighting. This adds tension to the film. Pathetic fallacy is obviously used to add to the horror of the film; for example, mist makes things harder for the audience and the characters to see. All of this mise en scène is brilliant in creating the setting of the asylum and the time it is set in; the late nineteenth being something which is not relatable to today’s audience.
This film is definitely not appropriate for younger ages, the drama of the film can be frightening. The age limit is 15, so should be stuck to, as it is a horror. However, it is not a horror of jump scares or terror, but one that confuses you, makes you feel uncertain to what is going to happen, some scenes are even stressful. It is a very tense film, something is always going on.
If I were to rate this on if it’s the best horror, I would say it isn’t, as it plays on the mind and “madness” of the film, rather than scaring you to death. Personally, I found the film to be better when you’re watching it for the first time, as things are more secretive and mysterious, whereas watching it for the second time, these aspects are lost and you know what’s coming. However, it is still a good film, and makes you wonder what is happening in each of the character’s minds, as they are all unpredictable. So if you’re looking for a tense film, where a new doctor is stuck in an asylum and unable to help, then you should choose ‘Stonehearst Asylum’.