#343 -- Insanitarium (2008)
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Once again, I found myself watching (and really enjoying) a movie that I didn't expect all that much from. I hadn't even intended to watch this at all (I just downloaded Crackle to my computer and I wanted to see how well it worked), but I just couldn't turn it off! The synopsis that Crackle gave me was pretty bland - something about a guy getting himself committed to an insane asylum in order to break out his whacko sister. See, I've seen a couple of hospital-based horrors, and they're all the same at their core: crazy doctor does mean things, patients die, one patient retaliates and fucks shit up. Yeah, okay. I've seen it before, and I wasn't exactly jumping up and down with excitement to see it again. But, here! It took a turn that I did not expect AT ALL. Sure, if I'd read some reviews, or maybe even a synopsis somewhere else, I might have known what was up. But I'm glad I didn't, because I was surprised at how things turned out, and that's what made me love this movie.
I already gave you the synopsis: a guy convinces folks that he's crazy so he can get into the asylum where his sister is. See, they won't let him talk to her or see her, so he just wants to make sure she's a live. Seems like a good idea, right? Wrong. Once he gets there, he starts to realize that - hey! - they're doing some pretty wacky shit here, and I don't think I want to be here anymore. But, just what is all that wacky shit? Well, I think part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was that I didn't know what that wacky shit was going into it. That might be the case with you guys, and I definitely don't want to ruin for you; so, I'll save that until later for those of you who don't care.
Anyways...There are several reasons that this movie was great. First of all, it drug me in and wouldn't let me go. From the first few minutes, I was hooked. I could feel the love that Jack had for his sister, and the lengths he was willing to go to to make sure that she was okay. Plus, he was hot. I'm still a woman. Then, when he started acting crazy, I was totally hooked -- he was so good at it! And everyone knows I love me a crazy man. Oh yes. Seeing the other crazy people was great too. They all had individualized personalities that were interesting and unique. I think the character development in this one was wonderful; I even felt like I knew the minor characters pretty well, which is definitely not common in horror movies. There was one guy who reminded me of Hannibal Lector, liked to touch and smell people and was overall one creepy motherfucker. There was a chick who was obsessed with sex, but anytime anyone touched her, she'd freak and scream rape. Oh, and she ended up doing some pretty gnarly things to the security guard that she was fucking. There were plenty of others, but let's move on. I thought the story was great and, even though Jack's decision was downright stupid, it had heart. He was a good guy who loved his sister, and it's always easy to root for the good guy. I also have to praise Jesse Metcalfe on his great acting. He went from an intelligent man to a mumbling psycho in no time, and it seemed an easy transition for him. It seemed natural and believable. And the gore! There was plenty of blood a-flowin' in this one, and it looked great. The kills were great, and the effects that brought them to life were well done. There was one scene where a guy broke a woman's arm, licked the protruding bone, and then proceeded to rip the arm completely off and eat it. And a machete to the face -- gotta love a machete to the face.
All of that sounds great, right? Well, it should, because it is. But that's not even including that wacky shit I mentioned earlier. That's just icing on the bloody cake that was already pretty delicious to begin with.
Continue reading if you want to know what was REALLY going on...
So, the doctor at this asylum was experimenting with some drug called Orpheum, which apparently makes the patients' sickest desires even worse. It brings them to the surface so that he can examine them and, hopefully, rewire their brains to make it go away. Or something along those lines. When the patients are injected with Orpheum, the most immediate effect is their eyes turning almost completely white. This is how we distinguish the semi-crazy from the totally-off-their-fucking-rocker crazy. They could have sedated them and made these desires more dormant, but he went a different route, and with some pretty gruesome consequences. The next thing that happened was the patients' developing a pretty strong lust for blood. Then they discovered that if a patient bit someone to pursue that bloodlust, the Orpheum would then get into the other person's system as well. Thus, infecting them. And, of course...after a while, these patients no longer seemed human at all. They were maniacs after blood, and they wouldn't stop until they'd had their fill.
Technically, they aren't corpses risen from their graves. But essentially, these guys were zombies. Everyone knows that I love zombies, and I'm all for different and unique takes on my lovely little flesh-eaters. That is definitely what this is. It doesn't focus on the apocalyptic; it focuses on what happened before that made these people into zombies. And it wasn't a government facility trying to create super soldiers! Yay for that. I do think that the doctor was trying to help these people at first, but he became so obsessed with his project that it took complete control of him. He no longer cared what happened to anyone, patient or otherwise, so long as his theories were proven and his experiments were successful.
So, it should be no surprise - to anyone that really knows me - that I loved this movie. It had seriously crazy people, which always gets my heart pumpin'. It had lots of blood and gore. And, of course, ZOMBIES! They're not your typical zombies, no, but they're still zombies. And these guys are scary. They were crazy to begin with, before all this happened. They're not slowed down at all, and they still have their mental faculties, which were already dangerous. They already want to kill you, and they're not afraid to tell you so. But now they have the means to do so, and a deeper hunger that also drives them. Good stuff. The only reason I didn't give this a full five-star rating is because I wouldn't count it among one of my absolute favorites. But I still thought it was a wonderful movie.
Oh, and one more thing. Jeff Buhler wrote the screenplay for Midnight Meat Train, another movie with some gruesome kills and awesome gore. I think there might be a connection there...