Based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, Stonehearst Asylum is Victorian-era madhouse drama that wouldn’t look out of place in the Hammer universe.
When young doctor Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess) arrives at Stonehearst Asylum in search of an apprenticeship, he is met by superintendent Dr. Lamb (Ben Kingsley). Expecting to stumble across heavily medicated patients and barbaric therapies, Edward is at first intrigued by Lamb’s unusual treatment methods that have the patients walking around all happy and relaxed. Things change though once he finds out that Lamb is actually a patient and that the crazies have taken over. Edward suddenly finds himself facing the difficult task of freeing the captured staff (including Michael Caine) while also rescuing the beautiful Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale).
Everything is set up beautifully here… the story, the location and the ridiculously overqualified cast. Yet Stonehearst Asylum fails to deliver, mainly because director Brad Anderson can’t seem to figure out where he wants to take this. As a result, the movie is not disturbing enough to be creepy or exploitative enough to be trashy.