05 February 2014

Sanitarium 2013 - REVIEW

I was taking a little stroll around the video section of Wally World and came across this DVD. The cover art is what grabbed my attention. Not because it's anything overly spectacular but something about it jumped out at me. I'd never heard of it before so I was surprised to see the names attached to it and figured I'd give it a watch.

In this anthology type film, we're introduced to three patients of the sanitarium and watch as the stories of how they ended up there are told. 'Figuratively Speaking' is the story of an eccentric artist driven mad by his own creations. 'Monsters are Real' tells us the story of the abusive life of an eight year old. 'Up to the Last Man' gives us a glimpse into the psychopathy of obsession. Malcolm McDowell narrates these three tales as Dr. Stenson, the lead doctor at the sanitarium.

1) 'Figuratively Speaking' revolves around Gustav (John Glover), an artist known for creating super creepy dolls complete with a big dramatic display. It's opening night for his new exhibit and it seems our artist is on the verge of a melt down. He suffers from crippling migraines that make him believe his dolls are talking to him. It isn't until his friend Sam (Robert Englund) tries to take the show on the road that the dolls start telling him to do some very naughty things. To keep from spoiling things for you, I'll leave this synopsis at that.

There were great performances all the way around for this addition to this addition of the anthology. Glover did a pretty phenomenal job portraying madness. He's a very versatile actor who can really get into a character and bring it to life. Englund has a pretty minor role but plays it well, as usual. Walter Perez is Matteo, Gustav's right hand man, and fits perfectly into the mix.

Although this one wasn't my favorite of the three, it was beautifully shot and very well put together. Figuratively Speaking only takes place over the course of one night so there's not a whole lot of time for major character development but you get enough for everything to come together in the end. There's a sense of foreboding as you watch Gustav descend deeper and deeper into his own private hell.

2) 'Monsters are Real' is the most disturbing of the three tales. Steven (David Mazouz) is an eight year old boy with an abusive father (Chris Mulkey) who retreats within his own mind to mask the pain. Suspecting that something is going on at home, his teacher Ms. Lorne (Lacey Chabert) confronts the boy's father unknowingly triggering a chain of events that will change all of their lives.

What an amazing performance by Mazouz. If at the end of this story, you don't feel for the character of Steven, you have to be one hell of a heartless bastard. I could sit here and rave about how well he did all day but we must move along. He showed meek and he showed timid and he just makes your heart hurt for him. Mulkey did great as well. I kinda wanted to dick punch him after about 5 minutes of screen time so I guess that means he nailed it. You'd be hard pressed to find a bad performance by anyone here.

Again, the look of the film was very crisp and well shot and an all around solid short film.

 3) The final installment to Sanitarium, 'Up to the Last Man' centers on James Silo (Lou Diamond Phillips) a college professor obsessed with the Mayan Apocalypse. As his obsession grows, he becomes more and more convinced that it IS coming and inevitably drains the family's savings in order to build an elaborate underground shelter.

This one does a bit of a flip flop as there are a lot of flashbacks within the flashback (if that makes sense). Just make sure you pay attention so you can keep up and you'll find yourself watching the best short of the bunch. Phillips always does a great job but I'm not sure I've seen a performance like this from him before. It was a very emotional and intense rendition of a man on the brink of insanity.

This one has a very claustrophobic feel to it as the majority of it takes place down in the shelter. It's a dialogue heavy short but what do you expect from a film with basically a cast of one? This doesn't hurt the film at all. In fact it's probably what helps propel it into first place for me. When something is so well written, a lot of dialogue doesn't take anything away from the rest of the film.

All in all, Sanitarium is definitely worth a watch. I wouldn't categorize it as horror as much as a psychological thriller but I think it will be well received by genre fans. So, take a trip to the sanitarium and see what directors Bryan Ortiz, Bryan Ramirez and Kerry Valerrama have going on. Be sure to stop back by and tell us what you thought!


  1. I loved it. Very well put together. Great story lines

  2. I loved it. Great story line. Very well put together