Julian Grant’s “Arkham Sanitarium” adds new touches to the found footage horror film. This paranormal nightmare stars Shannon Brown, Rinska Carrasco, Marc Edwards, Ron Fitzgerald, Jim Sorfleet, and Shayla Sullivan. The story focuses on three paranormal investigators who manage to penetrate the grounds of the “impenetrable” Arkham Sanitarium to document the legendary paranormal activity said to dominate the property. Throw in a deadly cult dedicated to Cthulhu , a psychotic masked maniac and one creepy location and this film screams chilling good time!
The story is a pretty nice, and strong story that centers on a dilapidated asylum that was once the site to a brutal tragedy. Told in a found footage format with a bit of a fresh spin, “Arkham Sanitarium” manages to be spooky, atmospherically thrilling, and completely entertaining. The direction that Grant takes with telling this horror story is creative, modern and beyond the normal of what is considered found footage. Of course I have to declare my skepticism that a police department would invest time and money in having footage put in a chronological, creative edit ready for the big screen. It is a bit of a hindrance as a horror fan but not one that takes everything away from this film.
The drama, acting, and ability for the cast to create great characters is 50/50. At times the dialog hits perfectly within context to events and carry the story forward. Other times things get if-y with weak spots showing in the writing. For most of the first half of “Arkham Sanitarium” I wasn’t buying the acting, one character is sociopath, and the other two are in the midst of a lover quarrel that deals with the “third man” in the paranormal group. It felt contrived and unnecessary. However as the film hits the middle portion and the grander design becomes clear, all that frustration with the characters fade away and some real entertaining, quality performances put the story full in the horror vein. Although this film’s horror comes with the clever dark satirical energy.
The special effects are decent, creature effects and design could have been better, but for a low budget (or no budget) film what is presented works well enough to be both gory and entertaining. There is a bit of CGI used in “Arkham Sanitarium” but it is minimal. There is a bizarre blend of animated sequence that serve well to create a psychological boost to the madness but because of the framing device used I “threw down another flag”. Once more though all becomes forgiven somewhat because of just how steady the continuity and atmosphere of the film truly is, and how well it does in keeping the viewer invested to the story. Plus the soundtrack is what it should be, instrumental, dark, driven and eerie.
Overall “Arkham Sanitarium” manages to be a good, low budget paranormal nightmare. The added killer cult element to the horror really is what makes so much forgivable about this film’s flaws. Add to that some decent acting, and a creative twist to found footage format, and you have a horror film worth watching. And that dark satirical humor that exists in “Arkham Sanitarium” is on point, and entertaining. I have watched tons of found footage over the past few years (the majority paranormal stuff) and I have to say that “Arkham Sanitarium” is one of the better films. Definitely give it a watch and see for your self.