Movie Reviews 124 – [DVG] Hell Asylum

Continuing with the reviews of the Demons, Vampires and Ghouls DVD set:

Hell Asylum (2002)

Hell AsylumThere are a lot of things that can go wrong in a low budget indie and a lot of things that can go right. Unfortunately, in the case of Hell Asylum, a lot more went wrong than the other way.

Lets start off with the good. A shaky TV producer pitches a concept for a TV show in which a bunch a young girls are challenged to stay overnight in a haunted house with the promise of a one million dollar prize awaiting anyone making it through the night. The lame ‘haunted house challenge’ cliché is easily forgiven given the ‘all young girls’ target contestants. Yes, eye-candy can sometimes make up for other faults in a film. I admit it. And yes, the actresses chosen all fit the bill nicely and were up to the acting challenge as well. Each of the contestants had a definitive and unique character, but even seeing that these were comprised of the usual assortment (goth, bling, goody two shoes, slut, etc) at least a decent story could be formulated using these ‘formulaic’ characters, right?

So what went wrong?  For starters, these girls are all rounded up into one room and then each of them, one by one, are forced to explore various places within the mansion. The mistake here is that there isn’t much character development going on as each of the girls are ‘dispatched’ and the whole group dynamic aspect is lost. The few interesting moments were those times seeing the girls together in the communal room discussing their fate or the fate of the girls already dispatched.

The next problem is the degree of unoriginality. I’ve already pointed out it’s the well used group challenge to survive overnight concept. But did they really have to make it another fake bogeyman/real bogeyman story as well? I kept looking for some crumb of originality, but it was all cookie cutter material from beginning to end.

The FX varied from terrible to decent with a few original ideas. The ‘real’ bogeyman looked oddly familiar to the hooded fiend in another movie in this DVD pack (Witchouse 3: Demon Fire) and I was shocked to see Brinke Stevens once again credited in the role. Or should I say, yet another role in which she was totally wasted as we could barely make her out.

The film has wraparound scenes featuring Joe Esteves (the ‘not so famous’ brother of Martin Sheen, and uncle to Emilio) as the TV honcho who gives the go ahead to the show and then assesses the results. All good for a few minutes of entertainment, but they sure could have used him to spice up the entire movie.



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