Take a clever premise and do absolutely nothing with it but create a generic slasher, and you have a good description of Asylum. Here is a movie which insulted me at every turn because of the way it continued to ignore an original and interesting idea in favor of dull and uninspired death scenes. When your villain is a dead, crazy doctor who makes his victims hallucinate terrible moments from their childhood, one might think these might influence the kills. But, alas, that would be too much work and require too much intelligence.
The film stars Sarah Roemer as Madison, a new college student who had a disturbing childhood. She saw her father kill himself, and this was after years of his mental illness completely messing up his life and the life of his family. So, obviously this type of illness might or might not be inheritable. She sometimes sees things, too, although we’re left to wonder whether or not they’re hallucinations. Things get even weirder when we learn that her college dorm is part of a building that used to be a mental asylum, in which Dr. Burke (Mark Rolston) had some unconventional methods to curing his patients, prior to being killed by an uprising.
Because good doctors never die, it turns out that Burke told his killers that he’d find a way to come back and kill each and every one of them. I suppose this extends to anyone with a traumatic childhood, for some reason. Maybe it’s just because Dr. Burke is evil, but his reasoning for killing the students makes little sense, even at the best of times.
Madison has made some friends before the killing begins, and these friends are the stock characters you expect to see in a horror movie. There’s the jock, the nerd, the promiscuous one, and so on. They’re all victims-in-the-waiting, ready to be have their throats cut at any moment. Each one has had something bad happen to them at an earlier stage in life, and we learn about it prior to their death. Burke reenacts a scene from their life, and then stabs or slices the life out of them.
Now, doesn’t this seem like a waste of potential to anyone else? You have the ability to tailor your death scenes to the specific weakness of each victim. You can create absolutely horrifying ways to kill all of the people in the movie. And yet, all that happens is a little buildup followed by a throat slash. Yawn. Add that into the muddled logic behind the victim, some shallow characters — although who expects horror victims to be deep? — as well as poor writing and acting, and you’ve got a forgettable slasher not worth discussing any more.