Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Stonehearst Asylum directed by Brad Anderson

Based on the short story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" by Edgar Allan Poe, Stonehearst Asylum follows Dr. Edward Newgate (played by Jim Sturgess) as he arrives at the asylum to study under the leading physician. Upon arrival, he meets Dr. Lamb, played by Sir Ben Kingsley and discovers fairly unorthodox means of treatment, even for 1899, including letting the patients roam free and indulging in their delusional fantasties.

It doesn't take long before Dr. Newgate discovers that Dr. Lamb is actually a former patient of the hospital, and the real staff are being held captive in the basement, deprived of food and water. Dr. Newgate must not reveal to Dr. Lamb that he knows the truth while attempting to save the real doctors from their imminent deaths. In true Poe fashion, there are a number of twists and turns, dark and nefarious characters, and even a romance for good measure.

Along with Sturgess and Kingsley, the star cast also includes Kate Beckinsale and Michael Caine. The thriller is gripping not only for its twists and turns, but also for the thought provoking topic. What were asylums historically like and was the treatment of patients more harm than it was effective? It is a tale that still holds relevance today and is entertaining until the very end.

For more thrillers with a twist you might try Stephen King's A Good Marriage or  Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.

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