Stonehearst Asylum, previously known as Eliza Graves, is an American Gothic film directed by Brad Anderson and written by Joseph Gangemi. It is loosely based on the short story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" by Edgar Allan Poe. The film, starring Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, and David Thewlis, was released on October 24, 2014.
|Directed by||Brad Anderson|
|Screenplay by||Joseph Gangemi|
|Based on||"The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether"|
by Edgar Allan Poe
|Music by||John Debney|
|Edited by||Brian Gates|
|Distributed by||Millennium Films|
|Country||United States, Bulgaria|
|Box office||$3.2 million|
In 1899, an Oxford University professor demonstrates a case of female hysteria, Eliza Graves, before his class. Though she protests that she is sane, the professor points out that all mental patients claim to be sane, much as all criminals claim to be innocent. The professor advises his students to believe nothing they hear and only half of what they see. Later, a young man arrives at Stonehearst Asylum, where he desires to take up residency. A group of armed men led by Mickey Finn allow him entry. Finn escorts him to the office of the superintendent, Dr. Silas Lamb, where the young doctor introduces himself as Dr. Edward Newgate from Oxford. Although Lamb was not expecting him, he welcomes the help of an Oxford-educated doctor.
Newgate is surprised by Lamb's unorthodox methods. Lamb says that he does not believe in drugging or incarcerating his patients, and he encourages their delusions when he feels it will bring them greater happiness. Newgate becomes infatuated with Graves, now a resident at Stonehearst, when introduced to her. Though she brushes aside his attempts at flirtation, she is struck by his humility and respectful demeanor. A fancy feast follows, during which the staff and patients mingle. Newgate and Finn argue, and, as a truce, Finn proposes a toast. Before Newgate can drink it, Graves causes him to spill his drink. As she helps him to clean up, Graves quietly insists that he flee the asylum, but Newgate refuses to leave without her.
Exploring the asylum, Newgate discovers the former staff locked in the boiler room, who explain that Lamb and Finn drugged their drinks and led a revolt. Dr. Salt and Mrs. Pike warn Newgate that Lamb is a dangerous madman – a surgeon who murdered his patients during wartime. Newgate attempts to recruit Graves, but she declines to become involved and tells him of Salt's abuses. When Newgate sneaks into Lamb's office to retrieve Salt's notes, he overhears Lamb and Finn conspire to tie up loose ends by the New Year. This takes the form of electrical shock treatment, which Lamb forces Newgate to perform on Salt. When Salt suffers amnesia, Lamb proclaims him cured of his delusion that he is the true administrator.
During the New Year's celebration, Finn murders one of the young female patients, which Lamb brushes off as an accidental death. Convinced that something must be done, Newgate attempts to spike the celebratory champagne. He is caught by Finn, who then warns the others. Lamb prepares Newgate for electric shock therapy. Before it begins, Newgate reveals to Graves that he came to the asylum to rescue her once he saw her at the Oxford demonstration. Lamb grants Newgate a final request: to see a picture of Graves that he keeps in his pocket. When the picture turns out to be one of Lamb's victims, the shock causes Lamb to stagger out of the room in a daze. Finn attempts to take control, but Graves and Newgate lead a revolt against him, as the other patients have become scared of his violent nature.
As Finn is electrocuted to death, a fire breaks out. Graves leads the patients out of the building, and Newgate leaves to find Lamb, who has now become near-comatose from the guilt over his actions. Flashbacks reveal that Lamb, under extreme pressure, executed his patients as form of mercy kill. After they have rescued the others, Newgate again asks Graves to leave with him, but she says that she cannot be with him because he is normal. Newgate says that he is not normal, as he is madly in love with her, and he intimates that he has a secret to tell her.
Later, Graves' husband and the earlier Oxford professor arrive at the asylum. The professor asks for Mrs. Graves' release, but Mrs. Pike, who is now in charge, says that Newgate already released her. The professor reveals that he is actually Dr. Edward Newgate, and the man they knew is an escaped mental patient with pseudologia fantastica. Mrs. Graves and the imposter Newgate are shown in Tuscany, Italy, where they are known as Dr. and Mrs. Lamb. The two dance happily and embrace in the garden of what appears to be another asylum, run peacefully by nuns.
- Kate Beckinsale as Lady (Eliza) Graves
- Jim Sturgess as Edward Newgate
- Michael Caine as Dr. Benjamin Salt
- Ben Kingsley as Dr. Silas Lamb
- David Thewlis as Mickey Finn
- Brendan Gleeson as The Alienist
- Sinéad Cusack as Mrs. Pike
- Sophie Kennedy Clark as Millie
- Christopher Fulford as Paxton
- Jason Flemyng as Swanwick
- Edmund Kingsley as Sir Charles Graves, Bt.
Stonehearst Asylum has earned a total worldwide gross of $3.2 million.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 53% based on 55 reviews, and an average rating of 5.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Stonehearst Asylum offers over-the-top fun for genre aficionados; for others, however, it's likely to prove a dull disappointment." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Common criticism for the film centered upon what the reviewers felt was the film's failure to live up to its full potential, considering its atmosphere and all-A-list cast.  The Los Angeles Times wrote, "On the surface, Anderson seems to have all the necessary pieces for a surreal psycho pop. But the fear factor eludes him, leaving "Stonehearst Asylum" more insipid than insane."
Film Journal International and The A.V. Club both praised the film for its themes; the reviewer for Film Journal International wrote, "While the film lacks the macabre humor of the original story, it does an excellent job of conveying the creeping horror of Victorian medicine."
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- Sharkey, Betsy. "'Stonehearst Asylum' has gothic air, can't lock in the terror". LA Times. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy. "Brad Anderson goes back to the madhouse with Stonehearst Asylum". AV Club. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
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