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Arkham Sanitarium: Soul Eater
The stories of H.P. Lovecraft have been a fruitful source for horror writers, both in fiction and on film. Writer / director Julian Grant goes back to the Lovecraft well for his low budget chiller Arkham Sanitarium: Soul Eater, with mixed results.
Linda and Jerry Novak (Rinska Carrosco and Marc Edwards) do psychic investigations. Jerry is a humanist and skeptic, who questions any assertions of the supernatural, while his wife Linda is a psychic. They take their work very seriously. Their sometime partner Mark Chambers (Shannon Brown) is a grandstanding loudmouth who wants more than anything to get a reality television gig. They've been trying for years to gain access to the abandoned Arkham Sanitarium, which in the 1990s was overrun by the Lovecraft Cult, which worshiped Cthulhu and conducted human sacrifices. Somehow, Mark has gotten access to the sanitarium, and he rushes off to film whatever he can, cutting Linda and Jerry out of the picture. Undaunted, the couple follows after, hoping to catch up with Mark and salvage at least some of the research they want to conduct.
There's a lot of interpersonal tension to go along with the scary stuff. Apparently, Linda slept with Mark at some point, and Jerry still resents this. He doesn't want a divorce, but rubs it in Linda's face at every opportunity. This tension grows significantly when Jerry is possessed by a ghost and tries to kill Linda. The scares are hit and miss. Some are quite effective, while others miss the mark. The flashes of grisly imagery that pop up throughout the film are quite effective. On the other hand, the squid creature that sexually assaults Linda is ridiculously goofy, and turns what should be a deeply disquieting scene into on that is disturbing, but ineffective. The performances are generally good and believable, but there are moments when Marc Edwards can't quite reach the emotional levels necessary to sell the scene. It's almost there, but not quite. The pacing is also slow and the film drags at times.
There are moments of genuine tension and creepiness, but also scenes that largely miss the mark. The climactic scene with the Lovecraft Cult is one such moment of failing to be as scary as intended. This is a found footage style film, and more or less handles the question of "why are they still filming", not always with perfect success. A lot of enthusiasm went into the film, but it doesn't work more than it does. Rent it.
The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and as noted is shot in found footage style, so the occasional video issues are intentional and used for effect. Visually, the film accomplishes what it sets out to. Keep in mind that this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
Audio is Dolby digital 2.0 channel, and mostly works. The sound is clear and dialogue generally easily audible, though there are fleeting moments when it is a bit muffled. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are included. Keep in mind that this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality of the final product.
There are no extras included. Keep in mind that this review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quality or quantity of extras included on the final product.
Arkham Sanitarium: Soul Eater is not a particularly bad film, but neither is it exceptionally good. It's a good effort on a limited budget that works sometimes, and does not work other times. It's worth a look from horror fans.