Asylum: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales is an anthology film consisting of nine separate stories, plus the wraparound. Said throughline, Asylum, directed by Carlos Goitia, is about clown/stand-up Brandon’s (Raymond Lee) final performance. He freely admits his jokes are bad and begins telling a tale that either morphs into the next segment or is related in a more esoteric sense. As per the majority of anthologies (Scare Package and Handmade Puppet Dreams excluded), some entries are stronger than others.
Damien LeVeck’s The Cleansing Hour is first. Here, a fake, live-streamed exorcism becomes all too real. This is an intense opening tale, sporting excellent acting, and a true sense of dread. Then Drudge, from Kheireddine El-Helou, slices up some young adults in gory fashion. While it hits all the expected beats of a slasher, the killer is formidable, the effects top-notch, and it feels like a complete story despite its brief runtime. Following that outing is Mat Johns’ zombie family story A Father’s Day, and it is the best of the bunch. A little girl zombie is trying to eat in the beginning but is being bullied by the other zombies, until her dad, also a zombie, decides to help out. The audience instantly sympathizes with the young undead person. The father figure zombie’s change of heart is believable and provides for a few tender moments, especially with how this segment concludes.
“…a carnival plays host to a massacre.”
We go from the best to the worst with RIP. Directed by Albert Pinto and Caye Casas, the story is about a woman’s husband who just won’t die. This goes for a previously not seen campy, over the top tone, and it fails miserably. The actors are all trying far too hard, the music will make your ears bleed, and the tonal whiplash of this versus the stories that had come before hurts. This is awful in every way.
Alejandro Damiani’s M.A.M.O.N. is about a chicken fighting a Mecha-Trump. At barely 4-minutes long, this is too short to make much sense. Is this the future? When did the angry orange leader create a mech? Far more importantly, what in the bloody hell is this absurd sci-fi comedy (with admittedly excellent visuals and set design) doing in the middle of all these horror movies? Yes, the full title of the anthology references fantasy, but this is not that either. I’d argue none of the segments are fantasy. The inclusion of this segment does not mix well with literally all the pieces before and after (including the much more inept RIP).
Then the stop motion tale The Death, Dad, and Son, from Walgenwitz and Winshluss, is about the distance between a father skeleton and his son. This delightful little romp is exquisitely animated and effectively pulls at the heartstrings. In Andrew Desmond’s Entity, an astronaut (Alias Hilsum) gets lost in the void of the cosmos. While boasting some fantastic and jaw-dropping CGI, the point gets lost in the spectacle.
"…a very mixed bag."