Somewhere between the twisted psychological horror that is High Tension and the over the top, self-aware Downrange sits the psychological slasher, JADE’S ASYLUM, and this isn’t a good thing.
Though reminiscent of the two films above, JADE’S ASYLUM fails at being either giving us a confusing twist on the deep woods slasher that asks more questions than it seems to set out to answer.
Jade is with her boyfriend and his friends in Costa Rica, I think, partying in a large house. When we meet her, she’s upset at her boyfriend for doing coke and making out with a woman in front of her, which he blames on her jealousy disorder. That’s right, Jade has “delusional jealousy”, a trait she inherited from her parents and stresses out her boyfriend who just wants to be left alone to make out with other girls in the pool.
Or maybe he never did make out with that girl. The film is told out of order with disjointed flashbacks and hallucinations, so it’s difficult to tell what is real and the order of things. Used well, this can make for really exciting storytelling, but this almost seems out of order and confusing to no end. What’s more, the film has chapter titles, but seems to still jump around between familiar timelines and repeats scenes. It’s possible this was the point; Jade is confused and we are supposed to feel how she felt. She has delusions and maybe we are supposed to experience the story through her eyes and be left as unsure of reality as she is.
It feels like the male characters were written by women who hate men and the women characters were written by men who hate women. The women were always “jealous,” running in bikinis, posing for photos, and either had no lines or were just lamenting their lives as influencers. The men were always boasting about “getting laid” and cheating on their girlfriends and how they wish they were fitter or richer. Though it never mattered to the plot, the women were always in need of the men’s money, and being “crazy” with all that jealousy.
I really wish this film was worse so that it could have been a fun B movie. The idea of an unreliable protagonist navigating a slasher scene can deliver a lot. But this one reached a little too high and made it difficult to enjoy the kills.
That being said, the kills are great. The movie has some pretty great monster designs that I really like, and I was genuinely rattled to see them on screen. I liked not being sure if they were real and I liked the fear in the character’s eyes. But, though I didn’t catch a mention of this in the film, the release info makes mention to the house being on a “sacred ground” which could mean these monsters are… something? There is a long shot of a church at some point.
The biggest problem for me with the confusion of timeline and reality was that there were no stakes. The kills didn’t matter because I didn’t know if it was real, and I didn’t know who and when to root for what.
JADE’S ASYLUM takes a few shots at a couple of fun film ideas, but it missed them all, for me. I wasn’t bored, and Morgan Kohan is great as Jade and keeps the character sympathetic, even if everything else in the movie tries not to. The monster makeup was cool and was different from any monster I had seen before, and seemed like they would have fit into a season of “Channel Zero”. But if you’re looking for a psychological thriller or a fun slasher, confusingly (as confusing as the film) this movie is both and neither.