I’ve seen a few of the films in the After Dark Originals series over the past year or so and more often than not, I am pleasantly surprised by how good they turn out. While Brant Sersen’s Sanatorium may seem familiar, it still manages to pull you in and be a rather effective paranormal found footage flick.
The premise is nothing new — An investigation team/television crew go into an abandoned asylum for a few days to find evidence of true paranormal activity. For their 100th episode, they set up cameras and motion detectors in order to catch this evidence and prove to their viewers that the Hill Crest Sanatorium is truly haunted.
I know it’s been done so many times before that it doesn’t even sound interesting anymore, but Sersen and his team actually made a film of this type worth watching. Not to say there aren’t other enjoyable flicks of this nature, but for Sersen to be able to present a haunted hospital film that has a lot of good things going for it after all of these years is no small feat.
The acting of Sanatorium seems to start off rather dull, but as the film picks up, the team of investigators become more relatable, making it much easier to watch. Overall, the performers really did do a good job and as things got more and more hairy, they were able to portray real fear on the screen, bumping up their performances even more. Honestly, after all of my years watching horror and sci-fi monster flicks, I think I’d be the first one running for my life, if ever locked in an abandoned anything for one night. I can imagine how someone in this situation would feel and I think the actors of Sanatorium, with stammering speech and shaky hands, represented that crippling fear perfectly.
If you’re a horror nut who likes movies just for the blood, you may be waiting quite a while for any of that to show up in this film. While the scares of paranormal activity are usually enough and blood isn’t necessary, Sersen does still give the gore-heads what they want, in the last act of the film. All of the crimson carnage looks very realistic, too, so your wait for bloodshed is actually well worth it.
Dingy lighting and the hand-held camera technique have once again leant a huge helping hand in making an already good-looking film, look even better. Brant Sersen was able to utilize the camera superbly and after all of my experience with found-footage and paranormal films, I was still fully attentive and on the edge of my seat for most of the film.
If you are a fan of films like Grave Encounters or 8213: Gacy House, you’re definitely going to want to watch Sanatorium. You can purchase a copy on DVD and Digital from Lionsgate today.
This one gets 3.5 orbs out of 5.