Asylum of Darkness: A Review
by Luce Allan
Asylum patient Dwight Stroud suffers daily hallucinations of a doctor with a skull for a face and a beautiful woman in a bridal veil and gown; interacts solely with a fellow patient whose paintings may predict the death of whomever he depicts; and fails to remember the horrible act that led to his commitment to the asylum. Needless to say, his increasing desire for escape is inevitable. Although Dwight successfully breaks out, his freedom is hindered by a car accident that causes him to switch bodies with the driver inside. Taking the identity as his own, Dwight becomes the target of the supernatural as his personality entangles with that of the man whose life he has taken, and he struggles to remember who he is while finding both solace and imprisonment in someone else's life.
Asylum of Darkness (2017) can be appreciated both for its campiness and creativity. The special effects are pleasantly reminiscent of those used in the 1980s, and dark humor is sprinkled throughout the narrative. While horror movie tropes are definitely present, the standard concepts of supernatural creatures and body-switching are enhanced with original imagery and an intriguing backstory, although some elements could have been clarified for a more cohesive plot. The lead actors, Nick Baldasare and Amanda Howell, buoy the surreality of the plot with the heart and sincerity that they lend to their characters, and while delving into Frank Jones Jr.'s character would reveal too much about the plot, his performance must be noted for its strength and versatility.
While there are several areas where Asylum of Darkness succeeds, there are also aspects that considerably weaken the film. The action scenes often appear clunky and staged, and some moments of dialogue feel a bit awkward, which makes it difficult to be fully immersed in the movie. The music is often too melodramatic for the tone of the scenes, and is sometimes loud enough that it clashes with the actors' voices. While the plot holds considerable promise, these background distractions frequently interfere with its successful execution.
Overall, Asylum of Darkness is an entertaining watch that has a cult-following essence to it, and can be enjoyed when its campy fun shines through its flaws.