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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, June 26, 2023

The Blackburn Asylum (2015)

A Jeep full of annoying twentysomethings are driving down the road. They pass a couple with a baby who are going to check out an abandoned mine. Well Dad is, Mom and baby are along for the ride. Because taking an infant into a dangerous mining operation in the middle of nowhere Alaska is something reasonable. The trio go to the mine, find some unpleasant locals, and get dead. Well Mom and Dad do, the baby is important later.

Then we get back to the other characters. They have no cell service… because horror movies would be way too short if you could just call 911. They also find a rockslide blocking the road and a dead lady in a crashed car. So they have to turn around for help. But after a while they find a firefighter who tells them the road is closed due to fire, so he sends them back into the middle of nowhere to fend for themselves. Even after they tell him about the accident. This brings them to a gas station, they are running out of gas, where they meet some creepy ladies who have a penchant for taxidermy and serve as the harbingers… the ones who tell them not to go to the mines. Which is exactly what they do! Some of them die, mysteries are revealed, and we do eventually get to hear about an asylum that for some odd reason was built on top of an active mine. The end.

Why do I do this to myself? I knew what this probably was and yet I persisted in watching it. The Blackburn Asylum feels like a movie made by folks who watched much better flicks and were sitting taking notes. Need a creepy gas station… check. Must have weird locals who will fill in narrative blanks and then die… check. Our main characters need to be annoying and obnoxious city folk… check check. Toss in some taxidermy and the always present board filled with missing pet posters and newspaper articles about missing people to complete things. We also have a vain female character talking about how she loves her face and a final girl that mentions she was good with a bow and arrow. These things may pay off later in very ham-fisted and predictable ways.

If I haven’t made myself clear yet the writing is bad. This really does feel like a bad copy of much better movies. I’m all for filmmakers tipping their hats to their favorite movies, hell I recently reviewed X and there it is done right. Here it just makes me think of stuff I’d much rather be watching. This is further compounded by some terrible pacing. After a couple quick kills, we then have to sit thru some driving, talking, stopping to pee, more driving, then the landslide. Here you may think things get rolling, but they don’t. We get more driving, some talking, running out of gas, wandering around a mine, relationship drama, more walking, more drama, then some running. Finally in the last half hour the kills start up again.

The kills are generic with a couple happening offscreen. We do get a nifty snapped neck, and a rebar thru some faces. But these are mixed in random bodies that I suppose are matched up with the missing posters from earlier. But this makes me feel cheated as any of these kills would have made for a much more interesting way to spend my time rather than listen to the characters drone on inanely at each other. The movie even manages to divert from the normal killer hillbilly formula with some good old tie them to a table torture porn. Our vain girl from earlier gets her face burned off… gee never saw that coming. There is also some death by acid funnel to the throat. Neither of these are nearly as good as they sound. We also get some bad CGI for the rockslide and some fires that I suppose were necessary. Oh and I completely forgot the movie’s obsession with terrible jump cuts that obscure the action and gore. To be fair was and is a staple of horror in the last couple of decades. Though that doesn’t make it any less annoying.

Clearly, I wasn’t impressed with the cast nor their performances. What I did find odd was one of the killers is Ken Kirzinger under a rather shitty looking Halloween mask. We also get a brief appearance from the Soska sisters. I’m guessing they owed someone a favor, and this was how it was paid back.

All in all this was a miserable way to spend eighty four minutes. If you want to watch a much better version of this sort of story, check out Wrong Turn or maybe even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I can’t recommend The Blackburn Asylum.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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