The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.
Title: Asylum Blackout (2011)
Director: Alexandre Courtès
Runtime: 85 minutes
The acting is excellent in Asylum Blackout. The group of cooks all really buy into the entire premise, and deliver believable performances when the shit hit the fans. The group of insane inmates are arguably even more impressive. So much so that I was left genuinely questioning whether or not they cast real mentally insane patients to play the chorus. This is obviously not the case, but they do find some really odd looking guys to fill out the cast, which adds to the whole effect.
Story & Script
Just as the title suggests, Asylum Blackout revolves around an incident in an asylum for the criminally insane where the power goes completely out. To be more specific, a group of cooks – who moonlight as a struggling rock band together – get locked inside this asylum along with the guards and the dangerous inmates. What surprises me most is just how effective this seemingly silly premise works. The script spends about fifteen minutes setting up the asylum and the characters. Though we still don’t know get to the know the characters all that well, we quickly learn that this asylum is filled with scary, dangerous lunatics, which is much more important in this film. The ending starts to get confusing, but I think I understand it, and I have to give credit to the script because it ended on a much deeper and more thought-provoking note than I expected.
Asylum Blackout is director Alexandre Courtès’ first and only feature film. This is shocking because Courtès is clearly a talented director with an eye for horror and tension. Once Asylum Blackout grabs the viewer, it never lets go. The tension is ratcheted way up, and not because of any cheap scares. Courtès manages to make the scares much deeper, and a major reason is because of the sheer brutality of it all. No punches are pulled and Courtès is willing to go places that will easily make the viewer cringe, which is what I loved most about the film.
The gore effects in Asylum Blackout are exceptional. There are moments in this movie that I won’t soon forget. This one just hooked me, and I loved the psychologically thrilling ride that it took me on.
I will definitely watch this again. The effects, the acting, and whole damn premise works too well to make this a one and done.
Asylum Blackout is a hidden gem that so few people talked about when it came out back in 2011. I remember working at a video store when this released, and our one copy barely rented out, and then disappeared. I’m upset at myself for not watching it back then because I would have recommended it to anyone who was interested in a deeper than average horror film with incredible gore and lots of tension. Even if you think the title may be silly, horror fans will want to track down a copy of this one. It is unfortunate that IFC only released it on DVD in the US because the UK received a region-locked Blu-ray Steelbook, which is another reason I want to purchase a region-free Blu-ray player.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.