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post #1 of 2 Old 12-08-2014, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Stonehearst Asylum (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

Inspired by a short story from Edgar Allan Poe, Check out our review of this period thriller in which nobody is who or what they appear to be.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Millennium Entertainment - 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 112 minutes
Genre: Thriller/Horror

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson
Directed by: Brad Anderson
Music by: John Debney
Written by: Joe Gangemi
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 16, 2014

"No one is what they seem"

My Take:

On Christmas Eve, 1899, Edward Newgate [Sturgess] arrives at the imposing gates of Stonehearst Mental Asylum, eager to be granted an apprenticeship with the superintendent.

Delighted to share his knowledge and philosophy, Dr. Lamb [Kingsley] agrees and immediately takes Edward on a tour of the asylum, proudly introducing his staff and the troubled patients in his care, including the hauntingly beautiful Eliza Graves [Beckinsale] – a captivating woman whose violent aversion to intimacy has ensured her permanent residence at Stonehearst.

As the days pass, Edward observes Lamb’s modern methods. The “medieval” practices so favored by his predecessor, Dr. Salt [Caine], have been abolished and his patients are never sedated, segregated or locked up. Instead, they are celebrated as individuals in their natural, unadulterated state of lunacy. Lamb’s vision is to build an enlightened society within the walls of his establishment, where the patients are respected and mingle with the staff as equals.

However, one night Edward notices a strange thumping noise coming from the vent in his sleeping quarters. Intrigued, he follows the sound down into the dark asylum cellar. In the bowels of the asylum’s depths he makes a horrifying discovery that teeters on the edge of nightmarish insanity. Edward won’t and can’t let his discovery of Stonehearst’s dark secret interfere with his mission. A mission that there is more to than meets the eye…

Based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe Stonehearst Asylum is a period psychological thriller with a fairly conventional plot that carries a few twists that for seasoned genre fans aren’t hard to see coming. That doesn’t preclude it from being worth watching as there is an amiable bit of gothic fun to be had as the narrative plays out. As each of the boxes gets checked off the atmospheric essence of the proceedings keeps interest from waning as you await the reveals and hope for the comeuppance of those that have it coming. Given the potential of its subject matter the storyline never truly descends to the twistedly dark depths required to make the film memorable which is probably its biggest shortcoming.

I thought the cast, particularly the supporting players, were quite good. Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley and Kate Beckinsale primarily get the lion’s share of screen time. That was fine with me especially in the case of Kate B. who is always a pleasure to see on the big screen. In the end Stonehearst Asylum is a serviceable genre entry that doesn’t leave an impression but is mildly entertaining while it lasts.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for disturbing and violent images, sexual content and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

Stonehearst Asylum comes to Blu-ray Disc from Millennium Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 15 Mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 1 Mbps.

This film has an intentionally stylized visual design that utilizes a muted color scheme that works aesthetically well for the film’s theme and setting. The color palette is deliberately held to primary use of black, grays, whites, soft browns and pale blues intended to replicate the time period depicted in the story. Fleshtones hold up nicely against the de-saturated chroma and don’t appear unnatural. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays without washing away detail. Whites are punchy and grays are multi-staged and deep. This encoding offers stable resolution that effectively renders the film’s cinematography and shooting locations. Overall I find the quality of the video to be gratifying. It isn’t always razor sharp but it’s cleanly rendered with plenty of subtle refinement and delineation that enhances depth and reveals fine detail in objects, clothing, and physical features. Blacks aren’t inky in depth but are gradationally revealing which combines with excellent detail in low light and shadowy backgrounds to provide a strong sense of dimension.

The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack had no trouble rendering clear and well articulated dialogue. Sound effects had notable dynamic energy so that they sounded full bodied and aurally satisfying. This is not a film that requires heavy use of surround sound to deliver its message but it does rely on the entire soundstage for proper atmosphere and low frequency detail from time to time. The mix does a decent job of creating the right sounds at the right levels and placing them appropriately in the sound field’s acoustic environment. Low frequency effects are used to add solidity to sound effects and the film’s music score. I thought the presentation served the source material well and sounded fine.

Bonus Features:
  • (HD) Making of featurette – 5 minutes

Final Thoughts:

Based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe Stonehearst Asylum is a serviceable psychological thriller that doesn’t leave an impression but is mildly entertaining while it lasts. It comes to Blu-ray from Millennium Entertainment featuring gratifying high definition audio/video and a noticeably lacking supplement package that consists of a bland making of production featurette. For those that tend to enjoy films of its type Stonehearst Asylum isn’t a bad way to spend an evening so feel free to toss it into your rental queue and give it a spin on Blu-ray.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
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Ralph C. Potts
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post #2 of 2 Old 12-08-2014, 05:36 PM
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I saw this today as well and it was rather poor in the scare department, but still a nice atmospheric little tale.
It made me remember how awesome american horror story asylum was

Pretty crazy how much the trailer gives away...

thanks for the review Ralph!
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