Straight to DVD fare it may be, but it has some merit as a spooker to make it worth spending time with. Plot finds Joshua Leonard as a psychiatric intern who arrives at Cunningham Hall Mental Facility and quickly finds that all is not as it seems.
It's hardly an original concept, that of a mental asylum housing something sinister, either supernatural or of human origin, but director and co-writer William Butler has a good feel for a chilly atmosphere, while he's not scrimping on the shocks and terrifying imagery either.
The asylum is a suitably depressing place, unhealthily cold to look at and the patients milling about the place are the requisite hot-pot of sad cases and the disturbed. Then there is the basement ward, of course, where the extreme cases are kept in cells, and it looks like something straight out of Hades.
Jordan Ladd is on hand for eye candy and romantic thread duties, and Lance Henriksen adds his horror weight to the role of Governor of Cunningham Hall. It's all very competently performed and constructed, the screenplay full of killings, dark corridor peril, secrets and a curveball twist thrown in as well.
It doesn't push any boundaries, so searching for anything new here will only end up in disappointment. Yet it's stylish and creepy enough to warrant a night in with the lights turned off. 6/10
Madhouse proved to be quite a pleasant surprise for this horror fan. I really liked a lot of what first-time writer-director (not to mention former horror actor) William Butler tried to do here. It was also something of a kick to see Joshua Leonard of The Blair Witch Project fame once again (he's left the woods outside Burkittsville far behind, trading up to a rather geeky new look for this film). There's a fair share of gore, a nicely claustrophobic feel to the whole experience, quite effective ghostly manifestations, some wickedly deft plot twists, and a really cool, darkly surreal opening montage to start things out on the right foot. Jordan Ladd is a delight, and the intimidating presence of Lance Henriksen is put to pretty good use. I also found the plot to be surprisingly complex and methodically laid out. I for one had my expectations altered a time or two when the final scenes rolled around. Some people talk about the ending being obvious (I disagree) or the film trying to do too much, but Madhouse, in my opinion, succeeds admirably in setting itself apart from other lunatic asylum-based horror films. This thing has a look and feel all its own, and I honestly don't see how any horror fan could not enjoy this film.
Joshua Leonard plays Clark Stephens, a super-smart student doing his internship at a mental institution. He is sort of a know-it-all who is less than impressed by the condition of Cunningham Hall and the way its patients are treated. The man in charge, Dr. Franks (Henriksen) doesn't really care about making improvements, though; as a matter of fact, he doesn't even seem to care about curing anybody. The other two doctors are friendly enough, but the head nurse is something of a battleaxe. Fortunately for Clark, there's a young nurse named Sara (Ladd) who, besides being cute as a button, shows him around and clues him in on how things work around there. By and large, this is not a healthy place, and some of the "caregivers" don't belong anywhere near the mental health profession. Clark gets off on the wrong foot, and things basically go downhill from there.
Cunningham Hall seems to have a little bit of a problem with people dying ugly, violent deaths there. A consistent outward flow of body bags filled with colleagues tends to raise the stress level among the staff, and the fact that Clark keeps seeing a ghostly little boy running around the place doesn't do any wonders for his state of mind. Besides Sara, Clark's closest confidante becomes a mysterious patient dwelling in the shadows of a cell down in the high security ward. Obviously, a mental health professional should not take the words of a caged schizophrenic too seriously, but the guy seems to know things and makes more sense than the men in the white coats. All of this lends an air of suspenseful mystery to the story. As things work their way toward a conclusion, the writer-director does a wonderful job of giving us false leads and turning the whole story around on a dime; as I said, he kept me guessing until the very end. I can't imagine why some would say the ending ruins the film; as far as I'm concerned, the ending makes what might have been a good horror film into a well-nigh great horror film.
As a gorehound, I appreciated the blood and gore that this film threw my way, but I was most impressed by the plot. Maybe there's a weak spot or two here or there, but overall Madhouse gives us a plot that is much more complicated than your average horror film - once you know the whole story, you instantly think about certain earlier scenes that contained clues you might not have picked up on at the time. This is a much more intelligent script than I'm used to seeing in horror films. That is just one of many reasons I personally give Madhouse five stars.
This is an excellent ghost/horror mystery that takes place in a mental hospital. Joshua Leonard is a young intern who comes to work at the hospital. He quickly sees that things are not quite right. As he is investigating the strange going-ons he starts to see the ghost of a young boy. He is given conflicting stories. The patients are considered to be very bad off, although some seem very sane.
I loved the visual effects, both in the beginning and later on during the tale. Excellent use of shadows and lighting coupled with a good soundtrack. The acting was good. The plot tells you something is wrong and there must be a twist.
Brief sex, nudity and f-bomb.
on 24 January 2006
Madhouse is the story of a young student psychiatrist who turns up for his internship at an asylum only to find it badly run down due to an extreme case of mismanagement. As he tries to make changes he runs into major obstacles in the form of the management, although he does however begin to form relationships with staff and patients. He begins seeing a small child running around the wings of the asylum, a possibility denied by the other staff. But then begin the sadistic deaths of members of staff, and suspecting one of the patients he begins to try and get deeper into their minds to find out what is really going on.
The plot of Madhouse is deliciously dark and twisted. The opening scene gives a perfect introduction to the chaos and the uncertainty of people not being who they seem, a theme which is to reoccur throughout.
The scenes set in the dark basement level are very scary and very well done, the assortment of psycopathic characters left to rot in this top security area dark and hellish, but also apparently knowing more than they're letting on.
With spooky scenes shown from the patients perspective as well as the interns, and suspicion and doubt casting its wide net over many characters, Madhouse is a great film with a dark plot and some nasty and interesting twists.
on 11 March 2009
Eager young medical intern Clark Stevens(Joshua Leonard) arrives at Psychiactric institution Cunningham Hall full of good intentions and is keen to bring his own ideas into the fold. Not such a good idea, as the staff seem as crazy as the inmates, theres a brutal regime of shock treatments and parts of the building are run down and squalid. He is taken under the wing od young orderely Sara who gives Clark a guided tour culminating in a visit to the basement, the 'madhouse' of the title, where the incurably insane are housed.
Soon Clark is questioning his own sanity as he sees a young boy running round the corridors at night, and is convinced sinister forces are at work, especially after talking to mysterious inmate Ben London in room 44...
This is a fantastic horror film, one of the most imaginative and clever I have seen in quite a while. The plot is full of twists and turns, and comes with a shocking denouement that will leave you reeling.
All the cast do an admirable job, especially Leonard, Lance Henrikson as creepy Dr Franks and Dendrie Taylor as brutal Nurse Hendricks. The film was directed by poacher turned gamekeeper William Butler who used to star in creepy low budget horror. Its obvious he has had good training, as the direction is assured and imaginative
A tiop class horror, one of the best from the last decade. 5 out of 5
on 21 January 2010
There's a killer loose in the "madhouse" of the title, chopping up the staff and electrocuting the resident Nurse Ratchet. Various "suspects" are offered, but there's really no doubt as to who the killer is. Gore is splashed about and the editor goes nuts with the flash-cutting. All to little avail. Lance Henriksen (always good no matter what dreck he's in) is one of the red herrings. Joshua Leonard (wearing a goatee that looks like it was bought in a joke shop)is the new doctor who professes himself aghast at the treatment the patients receive (the aforementioned Nurse Ratchet uses a taser to encourage the patients- among them Natasha Lyonne- to take their medication) and comes to believe that the solution to the mystery lies in the hospital's sub-"Silence of the Lambs" basement where the extreme cases are kept. A perfectly ordinary film, no matter how much it insists on shouting otherwise.
on 18 July 2009
Okay for starters if you are looking for a crappy Saw type movie that relies on gore and JUST gore then you are shallow and there is nothing here for you. If you are a fan of William Malone movies and Jacobs Ladder and all manner of psycho-dramas then there is little in this movie you wont like. I saw this movie as there was nothing else and I happened to have 3 quid in my pocket, turns out this was going for 3 quid so I took a chance as there are many independant movies that go overlooked and are left for the dust and rats. This is a neat little gem of a horror movie that combines real actors (not porn stars or the usual sort) playing interesting characters. The ending has a real twist that I wont spoil for you but no matter how awesome you think you are at noticing plot twists from the amount of times you watch Scream and Murder she wrote I am 90% sure you wont see this coming. For those that didnt like this movie I can only add, watch is one more time and take it for what it is, no CGI, no gimmicks and has an ACTUAL interesting story you might find you enjoy it more. Lance Henricksen could have had a bigger part and its a shame that he doesnt in this as he is in my opinion a damn fine actor, you may want to skip on Alone in the dark 2 (see my review on that or take my word that it is not good)
on 25 July 2014
Low budget yawn-inducer is another of those lazy serial killer bores criminally marketed as a horror, when it's really just a lame psycho-thriller, and it attempts to be like the earlier and rather better (though hardly extraordinary) 'The Attic Expeditions', but fails miserably to keep the viewer awake from the outset. A dark, clammy mental asylum may promise much visually, but falls flat when there's nothing to see, feel or even hear of any worth, and don't expect to shiver, though I did once, I was sitting too near the electric fan.
Which would be the only fan. Drearily acted, we don't care that the friendly welcoming student nurse, played by Jordan Ladd (love your boy's name, how American!) had a dark side, we knew it before she even read the soiled toilet papered square of script. New intern Joshua Leonard (of the far better 'The Blair Witch Project'-indeed all this wretched chill-free chiller does is echo better films to no one's surprise) explores the facility, becomes disturbed at the condition of the patients, some of them "see things" (yes, it's what you've got eyes for!), others self harm (oh, I feel my heart awash with sadness). But what can he do, and will the naughty nurse help him?
Depressing to see horror icon Lance Henriksen, more wasted here than a choc ice on a hob in this bilge, his presence so often means a quality horror, but then this is neither, and shame also for Natasha Lyonne, so barely just she get anything worthwhile. Leonard made the deservedly barely-seen and truly appalling 'Cubbyhouse' around ten years ago, and anything more like these two and he may need a place in an asylum like this permanently, though he did appear in 'Shark Night'-his best yet, and there's the likelihood of a few low-budget well-made comedy dramas I've looked up that sound promising.
Director William Butler has a few strings to his scraggy bow-he's been a bit-part actor and writer, as well as a hand in make-up artistry and special effects technician-maybe he should keep to that, his directing credits read like a pound shop hard-sell in a toilet bowl. He goes to village (or thinks he does) on set design, yet it's still all as sterile as a latex glove. He doesn't understand tension, has all the narrative grip of an unarmed baboon, and even worse, promises ghosts when there are clearly no such beings in tedious slasher land by way of a mental disorder. Think 'Session 9' but even more hopeless and less petty to look at, with the obligatory twist-ending bore to punish you for sticking with the thing to the end, and is it worth mentioning that I've seen twistier rulers. A straight fail, Willy Wonky, and back to the cex second hand store it goes, and if a third person is pitiful enough to pick it up for 1p more than it's worth after seeing this review, they belong in a Madhouse every bit as tedious as this one.
on 21 September 2014
excellent product, very impressed
on 23 April 2009
I didnt hold out much hope for poor madhouse - straight to dvd release - b list cast, dodgy cover!
But actually i was fairly surprised. I'm not sure i'll go raving about it to my friends, but it was watchable and has an enjoyable twist to it. The pace and plot is a bit patchy at times - and you are left wondering if it is all going to be a big let down but towards the end it does well to point the 'whodunnit' finger at a number of characters in the film and keep you guessing.
I felt is was a bit graphic and gory for a 15 rating - especially with flashing scenes that are reminiscent of 'those' awful ones you saw in event horizon of the torturings...
the special effects are a bit b-movie but not laughable, the acting and script are ok - overall its not a bad horror/thriller. Definately worth wathcing or buying at the cheap price but doubt it will change your world that much.