Asylum: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales (2020) Could Have Stayed Locked Up
Title: Asylum: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales
First Wide Release: June 20, 2020 (Theatrical Release)
Runtime: 117 Minutes
Starring: Raymond E. Lee, Germán Baudino, Itziar Castro
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
An anthology film with eight distinct shorts and a wraparound segment, Asylum: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales seeks to horrify viewers with a menagerie of eclectic stories that span genre and style. From more traditional antagonists like demons and serial killers to the zanier forces of fear like giant robot American presidents, Asylum: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales offers up terror across the horror genre. Its wraparound segment sees a clown (Raymond E. Lee) giving his last stage performance telling stories in between cracking jokes.
Asylum: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales is a by-the-numbers anthology flick that offers up stale scares and shorts.
After viewing, I found myself very confused with Asylum: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales. There didn’t seem to be much cohesion in the production. The inclusion of “The Cleansing Hour,” a short from 2016 that was made into a feature film released later in 2020, and “Entity,” a short that was previously used in the 2016 anthology film Galaxy of Terror, perplexes me. Admittedly, it also took me out of the experience. That is not necessarily a ding at those shorts, arguably they are among my favorites, but the timing doesn’t feel right for either film for different reasons. “The Cleansing Hour” has the most interesting concept with a great cast and fun visuals. “Entity” dazzles with fantastic cinematography and effects melting into a psychedelic trip into spatial hell.
Other shorts face far different issues. Both “Drudge” and “Bloodbath” have interesting concepts but are not fully fleshed out, so they never not quite reach their potential. I really like the look of the antagonist in “Drudge.” With a bit of backstory and some better character development, it would actually make a great feature length film. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make much of an impression past its flashy concept. “Bloodbath” is a bit more experimental in nature and feels like an extended scene from a movie rather than a short film.
“A Father’s Day” and “Death, Dad, and Son” round out the rest of my favorites. Each are very touching ventures into familial horror, particularly about a father’s love, something that isn’t always the subject of many films. Both sweet and scary in their own ways, they pack a bigger punch than some of the more outwardly bombastic shorts in the bunch.
“Mamon”, “RIP”, and “The Last Show” are easily the most irritating films to sit through in this anthology. “Mamon” certainly offers an interesting idea, but it lacks the focus to really fixate on the issue it attempts to tackle. I’m a lover of satire, but with a bit more care it could have been elevated beyond a fun concept into something truly sharp and witty. Anyone who has read my reviews before will know that there are certain things I really hate. Horror comedy shorts involving some sort of body manipulation is a very specific thing to hate, but I do. It happens in films I love like The Mortuary Collection and films I don’t love like XX, The ABCs of Death, and now Asylum: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales. It’s not for me and I accept that. Many others love this short so, please don’t discount it on my account!
“The Last Show” feels like the only truly technically bad segment. It’s laborious to sit through, the acting is bad, and it doesn’t quite justify why it is there. For a wraparound segment, it isn’t engaging or unique. It’s another that barely has much of a story to it. Over the course of the film, you realize that the sad man telling jokes is an inmate from an asylum of mental patients that have taken over the asylum. I feel like there could have been a more interesting story here, but alas it is not to be.
A disappointing project dripping with missed opportunities, quick flashes of brilliance, and an overall feeling emptiness at the end, Asylum: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales is best remembered by its distinct lack of identity. With all anthology films, there will always be standouts and duds. I’m never too fond of short horror comedies as they always tend to drag a film down for me, and Asylum: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales leans heavier on this material. That opinion admittedly comes down to preference more than actual substance though. Overall, it is an average film that is only worth it if you are truly invested in spending nearly two hours for the few good shorts it has.
Overall Score? 5/10