Anthology films are a tough racket. You can end up with a trio of stories, one being great – the others being subpar or downright terrible. There’s also the potential of two stories being great, and the third being the lazy leg that drags the film down or you know all three stories are just terrible. At any rate, when watching an anthology – there’s all kinds of potential for a really good time, a very mediocre time or a total shit storm.
The genre’s newest anthology offering with SANITARIUM thankfully offers a slightly above average experience with two solid stories and a slightly off kilter one – which isn’t necessarily bad but we’ll get into that with each segment.
The first in this trilogy of offerings tells the story of an artist who has a few quirks, but mostly thinks the dolls in his art exhibit are not only alive – but are his friends. Which isn’t really a bad thing…unless of course said friends have homicidal tendencies that transfer into said artist, that of course is bad and this wouldn’t be a horror anthology if that didn’t happen now did it? This into to the film is a pretty solid although more subtle one. The dolls are creepy as hell, the acting is good all around, and we get some really eerie scenes featuring a rather unhinged John Glover talking to his “friends”. So far, we’re on the right track.
Monsters Are Real
Up next is probably the best entry in this film, a story about a young boy who is having some troubles at home. When the boy begins seeing a hulking figure that keeps popping up at random, things take a very interesting turn when he finds out that sometimes – not all monsters are under the bed. Wow does this story pack a punch. It’s one of those, “Yeah they went there” kind of deals with a really solid plot, fantastic acting and a great pay off that will satisfy. My only complaint for this one is it’s the shortest of the three stories – or at the very least felt the shortest – and should have been the third entry to pack the bigger punch at the end. At any rate, in this guy’s opinion, this is the reason to see the film.
Up to the Last Man
Finally we have our last ghastly tale concerning a college professor who not only believes the end of the world is coming, according to the Ancient Mayans, but believes he needs to prepare which means – building a bomb shelter in his back yard. His wife, children and colleagues of course become concerned but he is persistent in his endeavor and believes it has paid off when the time comes – or has it? This is easily the weakest of the three stories, but it’s not a bad story – just very odd. Once again the acting in this entry is overall on point, there really isn’t a bad performance in the whole film, but with this one having a very confusing plot and being the longest of the three stories; it overstays its welcome too soon. Again, it’s not terrible, but perhaps with ten minutes or so trimmed out and perhaps a bit less of a confusing ending – it could have worked better.
Overall, this flick is pretty impressive, it’s well shot, the effects are not too shabby – no CGI that I spotted incidentally – and the stories themselves are pretty solid. Out of the three stories, there is only one that comes off as the lesser entry and even that one isn’t terrible – just terribly out of place. The other thing is none of the stories really seem to aim to “scare” anyone but rather get the gears in the good ol’ noggin spinning, and maybe once in a while begin to question their own sanity.
In closing, I’d recommend checking this one out. It’s a solid piece, has fantastic acting, great stories to tell and some pretty impressive atmosphere it manages to build in each story in their short time frames. A well done film that definitely has a lot going for it, check it out.