Monday, 28 March 2016

Hell Reviews: Sanatorium.

Synopsis: For the 100th edition of their popular TV show Ghost Trackers , a team of paranormal investigators visit the notorious Hillcrest Sanatorium where a bloody massacre once took place. They venture into the bowels of the abandoned hospital to investigate claims of disembodied voices, ghostly apparitions and incidents of missing children that have made Hillcrest infamous. What they discover there is far worse than anything they could ever have imagined, and as they go deeper into the building they start to realize they may never get out alive.

This is one film I picked up on a whim, and surprisingly I really enjoyed it.

I personally really enjoy a good asylum based horror story, whether it’s film, novels or non-fictional stories, there’s just something about the details of the institution and the patients that just give me a thrill.
There’s something about the creepiness of the stories of past inhabitants, the actions of the staff or just general practices from back in the day that really grab my attention and screams at me to continue taking notice.

Sanatorium is a good, easy watch film, one where if you feel like watching a film you don’t need to be too invested in and just want to switch your brain off watching then there’s nothing you’d miss by putting this one on.
That’s not to say it’s bad and an empty film which lacks content, it’s an entertaining film for it’s run time but it’s certainly not one where you go in expecting nothing and want to unwind watching and instead end up find yourself catching things in the background of the shot that give small hints as to what’s going on along the way, hints that you need to pay attention to in order to follow the story.

This is usually where I’d put the ‘cons and pros’ but I have very few points so it would render it useless in this segment, so instead I am going to just make small points in a paragraph of each.

Now for me, it was a solid story for the film it was trying to be, while the characters could be a bit eye roll worthy they’re still fun to see interacting with each other.
It’s not a totally original story, it came out in 2013, only two years after Grave Encounters which was released in 2011. Considering the format and content of Sanatorium it’s easy to compare to Grave Encounters, and whilst it’s a good film Sanatorium isn’t one that I would choose to watch over the other if I had both on DVD.

The characters are the basic ones you’d expect to see in this kind of film, they have a little bit of background to make them have a story but otherwise they are mostly just blank slates, these kinds of characters are usually made so that the audience can project themselves onto them. I find that in horror films it’s unneeded, I would rather watch a horror film of characters I care about than one where it’s like ‘see, this could be you, what would you do?’
I don’t need to think about what I’d do in that situation, that isn’t why I, personally, watch horror films. I can think about that kind of situation and what it’d be like to be stuck in it, without needing the film to give me a character to latch onto and claim as being ‘me’.
Sometimes it seems like the writers weren’t sure if they wanted to make blank slate characters who you can project yourself onto, or characters who you need to feel and sympathise for so they floated in a happy medium. This didn’t really hit me until I sat here and just thought about the film, so it’s neither a negative or a positive, just a thought in hindsight.

The atmosphere is hard to get into as it’s a film of jumpscares, just like Grave Encounters was.
Despite being a horror fan I have an immense dislike to jumping, I am the first to admit that I jump easily which is a large disadvantage to being a fan of this genre these days.
Unfortunately it seems like all creators lately believe that jumps and screams equal fear and to me it just doesn’t. I would much rather be sucked in by an uneasy atmosphere and build up than sudden jumpscares to get a reaction from the crowd. The problem is that so many people say they were ‘scared’ when watching these kind of horror films, whilst I see jumping as more of a reaction and reflex thank fear, but the masses opinion means more than a mere few.
I felt the same about Paranormal Activity, given it’s hype I was hoping there’d be more to it than just mere jumps. It had an interesting story but I felt they were trying too hard to fit in the scares than create an atmosphere.

Did I jump whilst watching Paranormal Activity?

Was it due to fear?

And it seems to me these days that most films seem to take that route, sadly Sanatorium is no exception. I’m just glad this one has an enjoyable premise behind it otherwise I’d be leaving my first watching with a large ‘meh’.

My only, and main, problem with this otherwise good film was that it is a more found footage style, which does fit the film due to it being another reality TV copy.
This is only a gripe of mine due to motion sickness, and compared to other films it’s not the worst or least stable when it comes to camera motions.

So would I recommend it?
Sure, it’s a good film and one that I kept the DVD of and would happily suggest to a friend.

Side note: Not to be mistaken for Sanitarium, even the great Robert Englund can’t save that borefest.

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