By Steve Anderson | February 16, 2007

“The Institution” is an excellent appetizer leading up to what will, hopefully, be a much better main course down the line.

Three police academy students go off to an island in Lake Michigan to research a cold case of murders in an insane asylum. What they find on that island will be nothing short of horrifying. The filmmakers do not waste time here, folks…by the time I got to the first minute, already I’d had like three “what the hell?” moments. And all I could think, throughout this fourteen minute rocketsled of insanity, is how brutally cool it would be if it were feature-length. Seriously, they took a premise that was, granted, a bit threadbare (police students on island with looney bin chasing cold case killer, possibly supernatural in nature? shades of “Mindhunters”, anyone?) and put some new life into it by just going pure-on balls to the wall with it.

Of course, there were problems. A movie this short isn’t going to go all-out in terms of exposition–in fact, I’ve really got no clue what happened here. The backstory is minimal, the character development is a flatline, and to be perfectly honest with you I’m not sure why half the movie actually happened the way it did. It’s short on making sense, but it’s long on terror, that’s for sure.

In the end, we discover that this is based on a feature-length script called “The Assignment”. Now, THAT is a movie I’d like to see. This sucker was fearsome, there’s no doubt about it, but there was just so much missing that my earlier wishes to see this in feature length would probably take care of the whole mess. Call me when it’s feature length, guys, and we’ll talk!

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