Not a horror movie per se, but still containing horror elements, Stonehearst Asylum is a well-made, well-acted tale that could find an audience among viewers looking for a spooky story that doesn’t deliver a pile of dead teenagers.
Sturgess offered the most enthralling performance in the film, as he enticingly portrayed Edward as the most rational and practical protagonist, particularly when he first arrived at the asylum. The actor subtly and powerfully showcased the new doctor’s charm around everyone as he starts to get used to the routine of the patients’ care, and enchantingly tries to maintain his sense of professionalism and honor even when he starts to discover the taunting secrets of everyone residing at the institution… The performer, who has rightfully gained in his career for such diverse films as the crime drama 21, the historical drama The Other Boleyn Girl and the Beatles-infused musical, Across the Universe, has once again proved his versatility with his leading role in the Victorian-era thriller, Stonehearst Asylum.
Stonehearst Asylum takes care in conveying that suffering from a serious mental health disorder is its own form of hell, one that can turn people into someone or something they’re not. It’s often gripping to watch Newgate attempt to look deeper into the psyches of the patients he encounters. …Stonehearst Asylum is very well acted by an ace cast and atmospherically photographed by cinematographer Tom Yatsko. It also interestingly weaves mental health problems and their treatments into its mystery plot.
Stonehearst Asylum, Brad Anderson’s adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story, is undeniably preposterous. But if you accept the grandly Gothic insanity here, there’s a lot of fun to be had…..Anderson (The Call) and writer Joe Gangemi take Poe’s original premise and double down, adding wild-eyed revelations and operatic atmospherics. They infuse the whole nutty affair with a surprising dose of deep compassion. In the end, it’s the humanity, not the horror, that sticks with you.
NY Daily News
As Edward Newgate, Jim Sturgess steals the heart with a sincerity and kindness. So poignant and beautiful in quiet moments such as those between Edward and an elderly dementia patient awaiting her son, Sturgess elevates the character and story even higher in powerful scenes displaying mental gymnastics opposite Ben Kingsley’s Lamb and even moreso in scenes between Edward and Guillaume Delaunay’s Arthur; a man suffering with facial and bodily disfigurement. A scene fraught with ferocity and fear is turned into one of tenderness with one word of kindness and Sturgess’ facial expressiveness, providing not only powerful moments within the film itself, but great societal commentary. (This is a long and detailed review covering all major aspects of the film)
Gore and violence are passed over for a constant feeling of dread which surrounds our heroes, giving Stonehearst Asylum the feel of an old-fashioned Hammer horror flick. …Stonehearst Asylum is an effective period thriller, more than worthy of your next seasonal horror marathon.
Under The Radar
Sturgess’ Newgate is the glue meant to hold it all together, and he makes the young protege’s conflicted thoughts very real. But like many of the actor’s roles, his performance is far better than the finished project, as was his card-counting MIT mastermind in 21 and his romantic leading man in One Day.
Just in time for Halloween, a blood-curdling horror called Stonehearst Asylum has arrived to boil your nerves and fry your hair. No silly vampires, lovesick werewolves or wet, web-footed creatures from the black lagoon this time. Just real, sadistic psychos like the fiends Karloff and Lugosi used to relish in their sleep….Elegantly costumed and photographed, stealthily directed with a maximum of suspense and solidly acted, this is the best madhouse movie since Bedlam.
With Stonehearst Asylum, director Brad Anderson doles out a vintage Halloween treat — a straightforward Poe adaptation of the sort that Vincent Price used to star in — and gives it a freshness and complexity that make it a delight. Anderson never forgets that his primary job is ratcheting up the suspense, but the implicit criticism of psychiatry without compassion makes this confection unusually filling. Vincent Price never had it so good.
The Village Voice
Jim Sturgess always makes for a sympathetic protagonist, and he conveys a believable amount of compassion in the part, even if it seems a bit unreal that a doctor would so quickly find himself entranced by a patient, even if she happens to look like Beckinsale. …It’s a bit of a surprise that Stonehearst Asylum is getting such a low-key release, as it’s not a bad little genre film, with some nice production design and a classy score by composer John Debney (a regular of co-producer Mel Gibson). While it’s not especially terrifying, it’s a fun, affectionate throwback to an older kind of horror movie - the kind someone like Val Lewton would have produced back in the forties (it actually has a lot in common with his 1946 film BEDLAM). It’s definitely worth checking out, and Sturgess, Beckinsale, Kingsley and Caine are always worth watching.
Stonehearst Asylum is a throwback to more intricate, spooky tales that rarely make it onto the screen anymore. Each time it veers close to predictability, it introduces a new twist that seems natural rather than just a convenient turn away from a red herring. As the movie nears its conclusion, you’ll find yourself emotionally invested in the dilemmas facing both Newgate and those who oppose him, a compelling foundation for any film but especially for a small-scale gem like this one. Ultimately, Stonehearst Asylum isn’t quite as terrifying as some of Anderson’s previous efforts. But it is an effective enough gothic mystery to get you in the mood for this Halloween season and ideal for those who prefer a good, old school chiller to a trite, tedious blood-spiller.