johnlink ranks ASYLUM BLACKOUT (2011)

Still on the lookout for another potential entry for Shitfest over at The IFC, and I stumbled upon this little potential gem. 5.3 score on IMDB, low ranking on the DirectTV rating system (I think they use Rotten Tomatoes), an unknown list of actors in a film about an insane asylum. This almost seemed too easy. This movie HAD to suck. But, then, this thing (which was released in other parts of the world as THE INCIDENT) comes by and impresses the shit out of me. Not in a low expectations way, but in a “wow, this was actually well done” way. I have until the end of August, and I’m running out of time to find a bad movie. Anyway, below is going to be as spoiler free as possible.


I watched ASYLUM BLACKOUT (2011) on 8.21.13. It was my first viewing of the film.

Here’s the worst thing I will say about this film. This is set in Washington State in the late 1980s, but it was made in Europe using European actors (with an Australian thrown in). And, sometimes, the accents bleed through. Most of the time, there are convincing generic American accents. But sometimes we get a very clear accent shining through. And that’s the worst of it.

Despite being a moderately budgeted film ($500,000), this never feels cheaply made. We never get the sense that some empty room has been weakly set dressed to look like something else. All the cars are late 80s models, and they all have Washington license plates, and everything feels authentic. The feel of this movie is one of its high points. The direction by Alexandre Courtes shows a clear understanding of shot selection, powerful choices with the camera, and the creation of tension through editing. This is a surprisingly strong film, even as it succeeds in being an entertaining (although disturbing) movie.

The first third of the film plays like ALMOST FAMOUS if the title were NEVER GOING TO BE FAMOUS. The band in question can’t get everyone together at gigs, they live in small shitty places, they get a gig here or there but don’t seem to have a ton of drive. We never hear them play, because the fact that they are a band is really a device to let us know that they care about each other, even if they don’t always like each other. I like the way the characters are introduced as imperfect and bickering dudes who ultimately will stand up for each other.

They, most importantly, also work as cooks at an insane asylum. They are protected by shatter proof glass as they serve the criminal insane. The first act twist is (as the title indicates) a blackout. Suddenly there are many inmates in a dark place with not enough guards to get them back to their cells. Further, the doors are all electrically locked, so there is no getting out. Shit, as you might expect, goes down.

There is real tension here. These guys seem to get themselves into a safe place several times only to find that sanctuary shattered. The movie increases in brutality, starting with a small sliced finger in a kitchen and escalating to… well, better to experience it yourself. The concept of fingers and the destruction of them is constant. Fingers, in fact, seem to be a key to unraveling the mystery of this film at its conclusion.

And what a crazy conclusion it is. As vaguely as possible, it is crazy. I suspect that it is the leading cause of this film’s low scores. Some movies, like in a David Lynch film, are just off-kilter and insane from start to end. Some films, like THE USUAL SUSPECTS, ends with a major twist, but you see how everything else falls into place. With ASYLUM BLACKOUT we get a mix of both. A shocking ending which seems to make everything you just saw some degree of crazy. For me, the movie earned its ending. It is not the safe ending, by any means. It may not even be a satisfying ending. But it is, unequivocally, and ending which makes you want to see it all again. To figure out what it all means, to figure out if the title ASYLUM BLACKOUT holds a double meaning.

I went into this thinking I was going to be confronted with a deliciously crappy movie. Instead, I was rewarded with an amazingly wonderful suspense story with likable, mostly realistic characters and the proper level of nuttiness. Certainly not a perfect film, but definitely something to seek out for fans of strong horror and suspense.



The atmosphere, the feel, the tone… whatever you want to call it, this movie had it in spades. Wonderfully creepy movie which packs quite a punch at under 90 minutes.



~ by johnlink00 on August 22, 2013.

5 Responses to “johnlink ranks ASYLUM BLACKOUT (2011)”

  1. Nice review! This is the only one I’ve ever talked about where I admit that I was loaded watching it and don’t remember everything. LOL

    • Haha… I’ve had a couple of those in my past. Sometimes movies are better that way. I’ve always wanted to write a book called “Movies To Watch Drunk.”

  2. Awesome review! Sounds interesting! Good luck on finding that Shitfest one, I had to venture through some surprisingly good finds before I found one also 🙂

  3. […] JOHN LINK MOVIES […]

  4. […] HOUSE, which I consider two of the top 5 21st century horror movies) were the indie horror film ASYLUM BLACKOUT (I gave it an […]

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