Friday, September 16, 2011


Posted by Matt

In honor of finishing my psychiatry exam today, I am celebrating with the most brainless psych movie I could find, Insanitarium, starring Jesse Metcalfe. From the box alone, I am already giggly. The tagline is "Your sanity is the least of your problems," which is either bad grammar and word choice OR implies that sane people will not enjoy this movie. Either way, I'm in. And the back includes the sentence "Trapped inside an inescapable labyrinth, will he and his sister find a way out before the relentless cannibals hunt them down?" So either, A, no, or B, someone is not really using the word "inescapable" well. And if this is the quality control involved in convincing people to pay for this crap, I am pretty stoked about how they'll treat me now that I have committed to watching this movie.

We open with Jesse in a monologue about how just because his sister attempted suicide and wouldn't take her meds, the big bad state has committed her to an "insane asylum" and he plans to get in by walking around with his shirt off. Or something. I got a little distracted. He and his collection of tattoos are taken immediately to The Psychiatric Insitution where he proceeds to be the kind of crazy one sees in these movies and the liars who watch them. And it's enough to get him into a cell with a sliding glass door, and the neighbor tries to kill an orderly... who punches the guy in the stomach and lets him keep his shiv and my WORD these people have an axe to grind. All the inmates have orange prison jumpsuits and wacky contact lenses because the doc is giving them "Orpheum" to bring their symptoms up to the surface, which is more Carol Goodman than I was expecting. Jesse and his muscles are transferred to Olivia Munn's care in a more traditional psych ward and started on Zyprexa and Haldol because going to medical school is much less fun than throwing darts at a Wikipedia printout.

Our first scare of the movie comes when one of the patients jumps out and assaults Olivia Munn and an orderly with a nightstick TASES him. This movie is much more Oz than Cuckoo's Nest. Oops, spoke too soon, we jump to a movie version of Electroshock where a setup like a 50's space opera has a guy shackled and foaming, and a nurse complains she can "smell him burning." I had hoped this movie would be silly SyFy original bad or Uwe Boll bad or Tara Reid bad, but so far, it's just late-night HBO without the soft-core.

Jesse finds his sister, and when he tries to get through to her, she actually presents some rational, respectful points about how she needs to be here because she's still suicidal. He also finds a buddy who's going through a paranoid psychotic episode but still trusts him immediately, probably because Jesse Metcalfe is pretty. And then we bounce to a scene where a naked female patient seduces a tech - so I guess now it's fully late-night HBO.

I guess we're due another scare, so another Orpheate starts some violence in group that day until he gets himself tased. Does anyone else work in a mental hospital where the technicians walk around armed??? Jesse survives the attack and manages to get his paranoid buddy to teach him how to move around the wards after lights-out, then he creeps out to find his sister, who has been put in solitary. Because in this world, when people are sad you can lock them in padded rooms for a few weeks. He also finds out that Orpheum is actually a bunch of infectious nanotechnology and that the evil psychiatrist in charge has been raping his assistant. Then he and his trying-too-hard facial hair creep back to bed.

Ewwww, in the next scene an Orpheate finds a cat in the courtyard and pops its head off and eats it and starts a riot. This prompts an explosion of dialogue from Jesse, and I am shocked that he doesn't choke on the scenery. And in the next scene another Orpheate rips the arm off the poor raped assistant, who just applies a tourniquet and kind of goes about her day. How is there still half an hour left in this sludge??

Jesse Metcalfe and his paranoid buddy are now in a riot on the maximum security ward for reasons I was too bored to follow, but they survive and find his sister strapped to a table. But down the hall, an infected nurse finds our rape-victim amputee and starts chewing on her bloody stump, I guess in case the audience might have started to think the filmmakers were getting soft. Or respectful. Or back on their meds.

Jesse and his buddy rescue his sister but get into another riot on the maximum security ward where the inmates are eating each other. I should point out that leader of the pack played the principal in Buffy's senior year, the one who was working with the mayor, but he has lost all of his charm this time around. Jesse kills that guy, then finds that naked girl patient from the soft-core scene, but she's naked again and eating a dead guy, so he punches her out as she promises him some sex. But that's okay because Olivia Munn is still uninfected, and she joins the team as they collect some weapons and fight off another riot. He is just stabbing zombie cannibal women all over the place. Someone really ought to call Susan Faludi about this one. And maybe the director's mother.

The team keeps working through levels, now stabbing through zombie nurses in search of the level boss, I guess. They find that poor raped-and-gnawed amputee, who gives them key information and begs them to kill her. Olivia Munn says softly, "You didn't deserve this." Neither did you, Olivia. You're awesome.

Sure enough, next scene involves Olivia being eaten by zombies, but at least she's out of this crappy movie now. And she doesn't have to be in the next scene, where Jesse keeps yelling, "Psycho bitch!" at the naked zombie who begs him to love her in a twisted version of the fratboy impression of commitment. Or the next one, where it turns out they didn't kill the principal guy enough and have to kill him again. Or the next one where the evil psychiatrist scrambles the paranoid guy's frontal lobes with an icepick, so Jesse feeds the bad guy to an Orpheate.

Jesse and his sister escape the "inescapable labyrinth" (answering that question), but the police take them back to the asylum, and all the cannibal zombies get loose as we cut to black.

Wow. Calling that movie an adolescent, joyless, clumsy waste of time implies that I hate adolescents. I generally love gory scary movies, but this movie seemed to hate psychiatry, women, the mentally ill, and most of its viewing audience. Not recommended even for Bad Movie Night or Flask in the Theater night. But at least Jesse Metcalfe is hot.

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