Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess) is a new doctor who has gone to Stonehearst Asylum to obtain practical experience in order to complete his education. The asylum is run by Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley), who has what Newgate finds to be an unusual method of treating his patients. He makes no effort to cure them, claiming that they are happier as they are. And he allows them the freedom of the asylum. Lamb's assistant, Mickey Finn (David Thewlis) is rude and crude, with a twisted sense of humor. Newgate finds himself drawn to one of the inmates, Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale). She is beautiful and enigmatic, and he longs to learn more about her.
Wondering about Lamb's methods and philosophy, Newgate explores the asylum and discovers more than he bargained for in the form of cells containing inmates who are locked up for some reason, including a man named Benjamin Salt (Michael Caine). They question who he is even as he questions them as to why they are there. But can he believe what they tell him? Can Salt be the real superintendent of the asylum?
Are the inmates really running the asylum?
I wasn't sure what to expect with this film, based on a story by Edgar Alan Poe (which one, I have yet to discover). I figured out the twist right away, but after that, all bets were off. If you've ever seen the film Asylum, you might know what I'm referring to. Otherwise, I won't give that away, although it's fairly obvious early on.
David (Gary Oldman) and Sarah's (Emily Mortimer) marriage is foundering on the rocks, after Sarah's infidelity, but they are working at staying together, for themselves and for their two daughters. When David runs across a less than perfect ship for sale, he envisions their future as the owners of this vessel, which they will use for charter tours and which will provide for their future. Sarah wants to say no, but she's not really in a position to go against David's wishes, so she bites her tongue and agrees to the purchase, although it will take everything they have and then some.
They decide to take the family on a trial run/vacation, and head up toward Bermuda, along with the crew, which consists of David's friend Mike (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and a young man named Tommy (Owen Teague). Tommy and the older daughter Lindsey (Stefanie Scott) hit it off right away, and it seems to be smooth sailing...
until it isn't.
Sarah thinks she is seeing and hearing things, and Tommy thinks the masthead, which comes from the original vessel, speaks to him. Younger daughter Mary (Chloe Perrin), who is artistically inclined, is drawing strange figures, for no apparent reason. The further out to sea the ship goes, the worse it gets. Sarah is beginning to think there is an evil entity on this ship, and it's after her family!
This wasn't a bad film, but it wasn't a great film either. Not really scary, maybe a couple of jump scares. My biggest problem is that the story behind what's going on doesn't really make sense to me or explain anything. The acting and directing aren't bad (look for Gary Oldman's manager in a small role at the beginning). But the story is definitely lacking, and if you can't become invested in the story, what do you have? A movie that tries too hard and achieves too little.
If you're a fan of Oldman, you might enjoy it. Or if you like creepy spirits on a ship in the middle of the ocean. I'll give it a shaky 3 stars and say everyone meant well, but it just didn't work well enough.