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Stonehearst Asylum, film review: Anderson has missed a trick with this Victorian-set horror film

(15) Brad Anderson, 110 mins Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley

Geoffrey Macnab
Thursday 23 April 2015 22:44 BST
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Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess in Stonehearst Asylum
Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess in Stonehearst Asylum

This Victorian-set horror film can't help but seem a missed opportunity. It has the ingredients for a lurid and entertaining trip to the dark side.

The cast is full of actors who know how to ham it up and steal a scene. The plot, loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's story The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, involves the lunatics taking over the asylum. The director Brad Anderson's approach is too tentative: he seems unsure whether he wants to apply shock treatment or whether he is making a Marat/Sade-style satire.

Kate Beckinsale plays an aristocrat incarcerated at the asylum after she bites off her husband's ear. Jim Sturgess is the dashing doctor besotted by her piano playing. The film has some nicely overcooked performances from Ben Kingsley, David Thewlis and Michael Caine but can't work out how far its tongue should be in its cheek.

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