George, Max and Ricky are in a rock band. Between small gigs and rehearsals, they hope for their big breakthrough. In the meanwhile, someone has to pay the bills! So they work in the kitchen of a high security asylum. Good pay, minimum risk – they have no physical contact with the inmates. One night, just before dinner time, a big storm shuts down the security system, the doors open and the lunatics break loose. Help is on its way and should soon arrive. They just have to wait for it…and survive until then. (movie summary from RottenTomatoes.com)
Released in the US in May 2012, Asylum Blackout (original title – The Incident) was directed by Alexandre Courtes and stars Rupert Evans, Kenny Doughty, and Dave Legeno (Harry Potter films, Snow White and the Huntsman, etc.). It was filmed on a budget of approximately $500,000 and was primarily filmed in Belgium.
[SPOILERS] I have to say that I really, really enjoyed this film. Setting the film in a maximum security asylum for the criminally insane creates a completely different type of claustrophobia with a leaning toward a less than sane. The dark hallways, the vacant stares, or more, the vicious stares, along with the sense of being hunted all create a huge tension for the viewer. I can honestly say that this was one of those movies that had me perched on the edge of my seat.
Three band mates plus another man work in the kitchen of an asylum for the criminally insane. They prepare the meals for the prisoners with the sub par food that is delivered to them (chickens still have their heads, animal skulls are mixed in with meat, etc), and the lead cook (Rupert Evans) goes the extra mile to be polite and considerate to the incarcerated. One of the prisoners seems to have a fixation on the lead cook, starring at him with angry, mocking eyes through the plexiglass that separates them. This prisoner is the one who convinces all of the other inmates to spit out their meds and retain their full psychotic personalities.
This is where the fun starts!
What follows next is part mind trip, part shock induced trauma, and part blood bath. From a man’s nose being bitten off to another man biting off chunks of his own finger and eating it, this movie definitely delivers in the gore zone. Decapitations, impalings, and a stun gun to the eyeball all add to the bloody slaughter. While in some movies (torture porn flicks), there is an unfortunately need to wallow in the bloodshed and torture, the violence in Asylum Blackout is more in place to highlight the potential for bloody mayhem. The gore accents the feeling of the film and acts as a sort of shock for the audience. While some people may not enjoy this focus, it does have merit.
I applaud Doriane Flamand, Kelly Valentine Hendry, and Victor Jenkins for the casting of the insane in the film. Some truly creepy individuals were cast into these roles, and they added so much to the feel of the film. They added that demented humanity skew, which I believe is why asylum films or films about the insane are so unsettling to the viewers. Things or people that should act in the manner that has been defined as “normal” by society do not act as we expect. This is fear.
One of my biggest complaints about a lot of horror movies from the 90’s up to 2010 is that there is usually a survivor (or survivor girl) who defeats the evil. I don’t buy that scenario. These “heroes” typically ride off into the sunset, with no consequences to what they have seen or what they had to do. One of our few survivors experiences shock induced visions and he sees them as real. There is a direct statement about how close the line is between socially accepted norms and our culture’s definitions of insanity.
It might just be me, but I found this film to be highly enjoyable. From the ramped up tension in the asylum to the shock inducing violence, this movie gives horror fans an enjoyable, yet tense, time. I give it an 8 out of 10. I would love to see more movies from these producers/directors. I think anyone who likes horror and isn’t afraid of a little gore would enjoy this movie. If you do check it out, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!