Stonehearst Asylum (Blu-ray) (2014)

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Released 18-Mar-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 112:41
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Brad Anderson
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jim Sturgess
Ben Kingsley
Kate Beckinsale
David Thewlis
Michael Caine
rendan Gleeson


Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It used to be that a film dubbed as straight-to-video could be pretty much written off as rubbish, however these days some films tend to miss theatrical release in most countries but are still high quality productions which are worthy of your time. One such film is Stonehearst Asylum, also known by its original title, Eliza Graves. This one played at a few film festivals but never received a proper theatrical release in the US or, I believe, in Australia, despite a high quality cast of mostly British actors and an up and coming American director. This film is a Gothic thriller based on an Edgar Allen Poe short story, The System of Doctor Tarr & Professor Fether.

     The plot revolves around a remote mental asylum, called Stonehearst, somewhere in England. A young man arrives at the asylum in 1899, Dr Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess), recently of Oxford, who wishes to complete his training at the asylum. Despite having sent a letter in advance to the superintendent of the facility he is surprised to find the gates locked and guarded by armed men. They are led by Finn (David Thewlis), the Chief Steward of the facility who invites him in to meet the superintendent, Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley). Despite not knowing he is coming Silas welcomes the young man, keen to have his assistance in looking after the patients. Newgate soon discovers that this asylum is not run in a way that most alienists, as mental health doctors were referred to at the time, would be familiar with. The patients seem to have a lot more freedom and are allowed to happily continue in their demented states rather than being 'treated' with heroin or cold water or electro shock as was prevalent at the time. As Lamb explains to Newgate he feels it is better for a particular patient to live as a happy horse rather than a miserable man. Newgate also meets a young lady from a well to do family, Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale) who has been diagnosed with female hysteria which was a popular diagnosis at the time but is no longer considered an actual condition. He quickly starts to have feelings for her.

     As the days pass, Newgate starts to see some strange things in the asylum, such as the patients joining the staff for dinner, which Lamb explains as being good for their treatment. Newgate also hears knocking coming from the cellars and when he investigates finds that some of the asylum residents are locked in cells in the basement including Benjamin Salt (Michael Caine). Newgate starts to question everything he thinks he knows about the asylum and determines to work out what is really going on. The film continues through a variety of twists and turns to a somewhat surprising conclusion. Brendan Gleeson also appears as an alienist.

     This is a better movie than its direct-to-video status would generally dictate. The story is interesting and different, the acting is good from a quality cast, the location and costumes are of high quality. The direction is good from Brad Anderson and there is a quality score by John Debney. If there is a criticism to be made it is that the film does not really provide full on thrills coming across as more of a drama/thriller than a full-on Gothic thriller. The creepiness and dread are missing but there are certainly elements of suspense and action. There is much to enjoy in the film with some mystery, romance, comedic moments and fine acting. It also asks some interesting questions about the treatment of mental illness, especially at the time when the methods were quite barbaric.

     Well worth a look if the premise interests you.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     This is a good quality Blu-ray transfer without quite getting to the clarity and beauty of the best. The picture is nicely detailed, especially in better lit scenes, however darker scenes can be a little murky at times. This obviously suits the genre. The colour is good with firelight and other spots of light being well represented.

     There are subtitles available in English for the hearing impaired which are clear and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio on this Blu-ray is technically DTS HD-MA 5.1 and it comes across well providing a detailed and atmospheric soundtrack for the visuals. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand and the quality score sounds great. The surrounds are well used for atmospherics, voices, music and the occasional effect. The sub comes to life during thunder storms and other scenes of action along with providing support to the music. Quality stuff.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    No extras.

Menu

    The menu included music and scenes from the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region A version of this Blu-ray includes a theatrical trailer and a short making of, both of which would not be essential. A win to Region A regardless.

Summary

    A good quality Gothic thriller based on an Edgar Allen Poe story.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are still locked in the cellar at Stonehearst.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5005
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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