Horror, Cult Movies, Exploitation Cinema, 70s Schlock, and more! Let’s look at something cool!
“All six are there. Who the hell is shooting this?”
Genre: “Let’s Explore, And Other Dumb Ideas” K-Horror
Year Released: 2018
Pedigree: Already considered a 21st century horror classic by many.
Where I Watched: Shudder
Synopsis: An abandoned psychiatric institute with a terrifying past. A group of YouTubers looking for those sweet sweet ad revenue clicks. A match made in heaven, or something. Probably wasn’t the best idea to perform a come-one-come-all ghost summoning ritual in a place like that. Maybe that’s just me over thinking; what’s the worst that can happen, right?
Fabulous or Frustrating?: Okay, subtitle haters. Yes, this Korean horror has subtitles, but with found footage films we all know that it’s focused on what’s going on visually. So focusing completely on the entire screen is the rule of the day anyway. You don’t want to watch this dubbed – a lot of the emotion coming from the actors will be lost if you do. And with Asylum? You’ll want to sink deep into the chills.
As with this subgenre, there are lots of bangs and other assorted jump scares, which you would assume would happen with going into a haunted mental asylum. Lots of up the nose shots, ala The Blair Witch Project and other found footage horrors post-Project. Asylum‘s overall “fake it ’til the real thing makes it” story makes me hark back to found footage films like The Cleansing Hour and Grave Encounters, with hints of Session 9 spookiness.
There’s nothing different here, but the chills and thrills are well paced, with cinematography that focuses on dark, foreboding areas just out of visual reach until it’s too late. What really grabbed me was the way the creators took the time to let viewers get to know these characters at the start of the film. Goofing around and good-natured ribbing at a pizza parlor as the bloggers and the girls meet for the first time cuts to what are we doing as they approach the asylum… And then outright “Oh God why are we here?” The shifts from fun to fear, to abject terror is well done, and feels believable.
For horror fans that haven’t already checked this one out? Do it. It’s a neat little spookfest that’s perfect for a lights-out-and-popcorn couch watch. For folks who’d like to check out a horror movie, but aren’t great with blood and gore? You’ll find lots to shudder at, with barely a hint of the red stuff (almost all acts of violence happen off-screen). Asylum is a mainstay of K-horror for a reason; it takes the usual tropes and clichés and makes them feel original as the spooky story unfolds.
Freak-O-Meter: 4 out of 5 Freaks