Director - Julian Grant (The Defiled)
Starring - Shannon Brown (Graybeard), Rinska Carrasco (A Faustian Tale), and Marc Edwards (Poetic)
Release Date - 2014
Genre - Horror
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)
Rating (out of 5):
A topic I generally don't discuss is my love for H.P. Lovecraft and his writings. I first came across his short stories when I was in high school when I saw Re-Animator and From Beyond for the first time. The films really impressed me so I started checking out his short stories. I quickly fell in love with his writing style. Over the years his stories has been adapted into several films and even his mythos has inspired films and other stories. One of those films inspired by the writings of Lovecraft is Arkham Sanitarium: Soul Eater. This found footage film takes stories written by Lovecraft, specifically Cthulhu, and tried to make an original film using that as a basis. I was sent this film to review and I thank you for that!
This found footage film follows three paranormal investigators who travel to Arkham Sanitarium to investigate it. Arkham was once home to a Lovecraft sex cult that killed some of the patients in the basement. The three was once a team but the young girl cheated on her husband with the other man. They heard he was going to investigate the sanitarium so they decided to follow so he wouldn't steal the show. However, once they are there her husband becomes possessed by a demon and attacks her. She bludgeons him with a crowbar and runs for her life. She rushes off and finds her former partner who also becomes possessed once her boyfriend is set free. She then encounters various spirits while hiding from the possessed until she finally encounters a hulking man wearing a Cthulhu mask. She is then forced to team back up with her unpossessed husband and former partner to survive the night.
Found footage has so much potential to be the greatest horror sub-genre but fails to capitalize on the potential. Found footage has the opportunity to be the most realistic of all horror films but it ruins the realness of the film by trying to be authentic. I know that doesn't make sense but let me explain. Found footage has the potential to make a horror film that can seem to be real. With found footage we can have films catching a wide range of things on film. We can have a realistic snuff film. big foot, and even ghosts caught on film. However, they try to make the film feel authentic and make the film shaky, grainy, and out of focus. Arkham Sanitarium tried to make the film authentic as well and this made the film hard to watch. I don't understand why filmmakers cant make a found footage film with great camera work and film quality. The acting in this film is solid by the entire cast. All the characters are believable and that makes the film flow a little easier. The story for this one is one that has been told time after time again but with a Lovecraft twist. We have seen so many films recently where paranormal investigators get possessed and kill each other. One film that comes to mind is the slasher Hazmat. However, what sets this film apart is the attempt to throw in some Lovecraft mythos if only in passing. This story could have worked if the film was not a found footage flick. Finally, the film does not really have any on screen kills nor are we treated to any real special effects. The film tries to get a rise out of the viewer with jump scares and suspense which the found footage look ruins. Overall, Arkham Sanitarium: Soul Eater is a valiant effort at the found footage sub-genre but their attention to detail only ruins the viewing. I can not recommend this one.