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Asylum (2008)

Sarah Roemer, Jake Muxworthy, Mark Rolston, Travis Van Winkle
Spoiler alert
Blog entry

This film seems to play on a distortion of the notion of undoing the effects of childhood abuse by retrieving painful memories, but with a sadistic and violent psychiatrist whose favorite tools of treatment are stylized lobotomy picks. These horror lobotomies bear little resemblance to the real thing. Rather, the mad psychiatrist stabs fully conscious patients (victims) in both eyes.

String, a new student, reads from his computer that the dorm where the student victims reside is a renovated mental asylum that sadistic psychiatrist Magnus Burke took over until rebelling teen inmates killed him (0:21). He describes Burke's lobotomies (0:22). We view a set of large silver handled picks while the doctor conducts a procedure in the background. We see inmates in restraints, on gurneys. String describes how Burke would, "do lobotomies by hand drilling holes into heads."

Depictions of suicide start early in the film with Madison, another student, as a child with her brother Brandon witnessing their father shoot himself (0:04 off camera). Exploring her dorm at the converted asyslum Madison finds her brother crying in a corner. He shoots himself in the head then disappears (6:26). Later we find that he killed himself a year earlier and that their father had been a patient at the asylum.

The students (now including Tommy, Ivy, Holt and Maya) explore Dr. Burke's long abandoned office. Madison reads a file, perhaps that of her father (0:28)

A series of flashbacks show each of the students' childhood abuse whose respective perpetrators turn into Dr. Burke who carries the abuse to more violent, even lethal extremes: String is first (0:36 ). Madison then finds him hanging in his room (0:39), but when she returns with others, he has disappeared. Maya finds herself at an earlier time when a man beats her (0:53). Tommy relives abuse by his mother (1:02). Ivy relives the childhood experience of her father making (presumably pornographic) movies of her. Holt's flashback relives, rather than abuse, the drowning of his brother who turns into Dr. Burke (1:21).

Dr. Burke performs a lobotomy on a boy in an operating room by thrusting picks into his eyes (1:10).

Ivy shows Madison the "self mutilation" of her wrist (0:48).

Madison reports her father's hallucinations of voices and visions and how he and her brother Brandon killed themselves. She says, "insanity runs in the family" (0:55).

Holt tells Madison he is a recovering drug addict, who, because he was shooting heroin, allowed his little brother to drown, "I killed my little brother." (0:57) He later relives this experience while fighting Dr. Burke (1:19).

Dr. Burke lobotomizes maintenance man and former inmate Wilbur Mackey as a child (1:15).

In the end as Dr. Burke appears to have trapped Madison and Holt she disarms him by asking him for help, but as he promises to erase the painful memories of her family by lobotomizing her she stabs him through the skull, ending the nightmare (1:25).