Stonehearst Asylum: Movie review.


A British powerhouse movie, starring some well known names: Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, David Thewlis, Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine & Brendan Gleeson.

Running at 1 hour and 52 mins with an IMDB rating of 6.8/10.

“The year is 1899, and medical school graduate Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess) is the newest clinical recruit at Stonehearst: a mental asylum for the privileged and wealthy. He’s keen to gain as much experience as possible, but Edward observes the techniques of his superior Dr Silas Lamb (Kingsley) with increasing concern, as Lamb’s practice strays far from convention.”

Set within an isolated asylum, this is a gothic, haunting psychological thriller. I watched it last night, and I could vaguely recall some details so I suspect I have watched it before. Overall it was good, with good acting and an interesting storyline. Of course, it is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s Gothic-thriller Eliza Graves.

Edward Newgate arrives at the asylum which is in the midst of winter. It isn’t long before he is suspicious and it is revealed fairly soon that Dr Lamb, the man in charge, is in fact crazy and has locked up the staff and is essentially letting the crazies run the asylum. So, what does the doctor do?

Throughout there is talk of escaping with patient Eliza, but nothing comes of this. Instead, Lamb becomes increasingly disturbed and conducts some horrific experiments, saying that the whole show is essentially a big ‘experiment’ and he doesn’t believe in conventional medicine. Lamb is an ex military doctor.

Newgate soon discovers there is no way to escape without taking out Lamb and helping the other staff escape. It all escalates to a point where Eliza is forced to save Newgate from electrotherapy, during a conversation which reveals that he has followed the lady there all the way from London where he witnessed his professor conducting an experiment on her.

Slightly obsessive and deranged. Newgate has to crack the code or secret to the mad Dr Lambs mental condition. In the words of Dr Salt (Michael Caine), he has to crack him.

The film raises some good ethical and philosophical points, including treating patients without medication and instead allowing them to express themselves, and that compassion goes a long way in treating the insane. But take note that this takes place at the turn of the 20th century, 120 years ago when psychiatry was primitive and experimental.

Overall a good watch with some cracking acting. I would of liked to see Caine play a bigger role and Gleeson, but that was not the case and it’s Thewlis with the most screen time after Sturgess and Kingsley.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

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