Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the horror movie THE BLACKBURN ASYLUM by director Lauro Chartrand. To best describe the story, I will use my own plot summary:
Five college friends find themselves stranded in a small Alaskan ghost town without any gas. They decide to pass the time by exploring a nearby mine that also was the former grounds of an asylum.
As evidenced by the above overview, this feature is an amalgamation of familiar cliches that run rampant in the horror industry. In fact, it proved to be such a ridiculous sounding setup that I kept waiting for some sort of sly or self referential humor to creep into the proceedings, but they managed to play it straight. In this day of post modern horror; it was a bold move to keep the tone on the level without ever letting things descent into camp. While I do think I could have done with a bit more humor or at least some less typical jokes, I do respect that they took such a ridiculously stereotypical conceit and mined it for horror instead of laughs.
That being said, the scares presented are not so much of the jump variety, but more in tune with the slasher staple of graphic kills. The use of effects during these kills is rather impressive and proved to be my favorite aspect of this whole film as nearly everything seemed to be pulled off using practical effects. This sentiment also extends to the makeup making it a one two punch for fans of the more realistic looking slasher movies of yesteryear.
Much like its classic forbears, this entry in the genre has a simple plot complete with some bad dialogue and stereotypical characters. While this might seem like an insult, it is not intended as such as the slasher game is littered with broad roles and corny lines. Even with these limitations, the actors gave it their all and never buckled under the restraints inherent in satisfying the genre. While this may not be a piece full of subtle or moving performances, the players gave admirable renditions that felt perfectly in line with the rest of the production sensibilities.
Before I wrap up this review I feel as if I need to point out the little gems that are the end credits and the post-credits bloopers. I do not think I have ever seen the credits of a movie say, "Cast listed in order of death" and I know I have never seen the grip crew described as "These guys carried a lot of crap up and down the stairs" so I got a good chuckle out of these little notes. As an even greater and more joyous surprise, I stayed past the credits and the black screen that followed to find myself treated to some bloopers involving the wonderful Robbins sisters. These outtakes, combined with the amusing credits, added a clever level of humor that was absent from the more typical jokes presented in the actual feature. I would highly recommend that those who watch this sit all the way through the credits to experience these wonderful little bonus features.
All in all, the practical special and makeup effects combined with a played straight slasher premise straight out of the golden age of horror will appeal to those particularly in love with this genre. While it does not bring anything new to the table, what we are given has good production standards and an on point cast that carries it straight through to the must see credits and outtakes. Fans of MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981) or WRONG TURN (2003) will probably enjoy the similar sensibilities this picture has to offer.
The Creeping Craig