Asylum Seekers Movie Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
DVD released by Vicious Circle Films
Directed by Rania Ajami
Written by Rania Ajami and Jake Pilikian
2009, 90 Minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on August 30th, 2011
Pepper Binkley as Maud
Bill Dawes as Alan
Judith Hawking as Nurse Milly
Daniel Irizarry as Dr. Raby
Stella Maeve as Alice
Camille O'Sullivan as Miranda
Lee Wilkof as Paul
Modern day life is hard and sometimes you just need to voluntarily commit yourself to a mental institution. But what do you do when there's only one available bed left in the asylum and there are five other loonies trying to get in? You have to prove you're the craziest one of them all. This might sound like a fun comedy, but I assure you that Asylum Seekers is neither fun, nor much of a comedy.
This setup seems OK. Venturing into the backgrounds of people with mental health problems can be riveting stuff if handled correctly. Instead it's poked with a stick and pointed at for laughs as the patients struggle with the idea that this institution can't help them, but is more than willing to let them compete to see who deserves help more. Forget ObamaCare. This is how the health care system should be run.
The characters are all introduced and in case you can't figure out what's wrong with them, the filmmakers tell you right off the bat. These range from nymphomania to paranoia to dis-associative identity disorder. They're then allowed to basically run around and do whatever, in the end hopefully learning a valuable lesson about themselves.
Although Asylum Seekers has great production values, it just seems to try too hard when it comes to the script. It goes for the lowest common denominator by having cheesy things like the patient who only thinks about sex shouting about how he wants to bang some woman or the one white guy who thinks he's rap diva Missy Elliot. Oh, how hilarious! He's a white man but he thinks he's a black woman!
The film takes a weird turn when it hits the final act, as if the filmmakers caught a bit of the crazy that was floating around. Things get more and more out there and I think a deeper meaning was struggling to get through, but I honestly lost all interest by that point. The characters are boring and filled with cliches so I had a tough time caring about them at all.
Asylum Seekers could have been a decent movie. It has an alright premise but tries to do a wacky comedy and fails. I thought that we've made it past the day and age where making fun of mental illness was considered funny.
Video, Audio and Special features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.