...if it weren't for the final 20 minutes or so.
It's a shame because in the first half of the film, it was looking great. The beginning sequence shows, in graphic detail, the event which gave the house its history, a fire back in the early 30's after the patients brutally rebelled against the sadistic doctors. It certainly made me sit up and take notice.
I thought the whole idea of a 'former mental asylum' and the 'scary doctors' worked very well. Mental abnormality is not something most people are familiar, or comfortable with and the film initially does well to play on the notion that people will fear what they do not understand.
I thought the Stephen Price character worked well, the ringmaster type who for once, has lost control of one of his 'games', along with Pritchard the oddball owner of the house. Most of the other characters were fairly average, weak perhaps, and I don't think the audience really relates to them, or have a lot of sympathy for them, which is important in a film of this genre.
Some of the sets and cinematography were excellent, the whole house seemed like one, dark maze ready to swallow anyone who dared rebel against it. The idea of the 'electro-shock therapy' and the chamber, where 'what would drive a sane man mad, would drive a madman sane', added to the effect the 'mental house' has on the audience.
Unfortunately, as with its remake buddy 'The Haunting', it falls into the trap of overusing special effects at the film's climax, resulting in a silly, evil cloud thing that swallows people up.
Not bad, but could have been so much more.