If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a cold winter’s night (or really anytime) and are in the mood for something creepy without much gore, Stonehearst Asylum is a good option. Right now it’s on Netflix, so it won’t even cost anything additional to watch it, if you have an account.
The movie got mixed reviews back when it was released in 2014. To be honest, I knew it existed but that was about it, because it pretty much flew under the radar in the United States. While it’s not the best horror/mystery movie I’ve ever seen, it’s also far, far from the worst.
It’s also based on Edgar Allen Poe’s The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, which instantly made it more compelling for me to check out.
Essentially, the movie’s about a new Oxford medical school graduate Edward Newgate (played by Jim Sturgess) who shows up at a remote asylum in the Scottish Highlands. It’s Christmastime, the weather is making travel difficult and the locals seem scared of the asylum. He’s quickly taken by surprise with the unorthodox methods of the head doctor (played by Ben Kingsley).
Just when you think you know what’s going on and where things are headed, the plot takes a twist that starts to make everything really interesting. The mystery of the asylum and what’s been going on there deepens, the stakes are raised and the new medical school graduate is put in a precarious situation.
To make things worse, Newgate starts to fall in love with one of the patients at the asylum, Eliza Graves (played by Kate Beckinsale). She introduces another element to the story that helps keep things interesting.
There’s also Mickey Finn, the head of security (played by David Thewlis). He’s a constant source of threats and instability.
The movie boasts several other big British actors, including Michael Caine and Brendan Gleeson. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the different characters, for fear of spoiling the surprises.
The ending packs a few more surprises, making it worth watching Stonehearst Asylum all the way through. It does have a more British subtleness to it, which I believe was lost on some American viewers, so take that into account before viewing it. In other words, there are no huge explosions or vampires flying through the air while performing Kung Fu moves.