Dir: Michael Su
Star: Jhey Castles, Lindsey Marie Wilson, Michael Paré, Joseph Michael Harris
Does the world need an Asylum Cinematic Universe? Mind you, did the world need Sharknado? And that didn’t stop The Asylum, did it? This is supposedly to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the studio, though according to Wikipedia, they released their first feature in 1999, which… Oh, figure it out yourself. Maybe the studio’s math is as questionable as some of their output. Unfortunately, this very much falls into the “poor” category of their output, which takes a premise which certainly has potential, and squanders it with mostly poor execution. Put bluntly, a film with “armageddon” on the title should not be as much of a chore to sit through, as this ends up being.
It begins in 2006, with sisters Madoyln and Quinn Ramsey bonding over the gift of an Asylum movie from their dottled grannie, who has mistaken it for another, bigger-budget movie. Fast forward to the present day: Madoyln (Castles) is a navy commander (albeit of a ship with a crew of roughly… six) and Quinn (Wilson) works in NASA at Mission Control. Earth is suddenly under attack from a variety of weird creatures and events, which lead to the sisters’ father, Thomas Ramsey (Paré) becoming the designated survivor after the Capitol is destroyed, and getting sworn-in as President. Eventually, the authorities work out that this is an alien attack, using Earth’s mythology against it to provoke terror. Unfortunately, the aliens have mistaken The Asylum’s streaming movie channel for our legends, so we get all their creations being used against us.
This means the likes of six-headed sharks, giant robots and, inevitably, a sharknado show up, among a blizzard of meta-references which alternately praise and demean the studio’s output, to such an extent it might give you whiplash. The problem is, just as with some of the Toho entries which tried to cram too much in, you never get much chance to appreciate it. This is not least because of all the scenes of the characters sitting around and talking, or gazing out of windows and describing what’s going on outside, rather than showing us. We understand that the effects will suck – in story, the movie explains the poor quality by saying the aliens were working off a low-resolution video stream. It’s still better than watching the sisters bicker their way towards an inevitable reconciliation.
There are moments I did like. The megalodon throwing the six-headed shark at a passing helicopter. The WTF crococtoshark which shows up, like some pizza-fuelled nightmare from the depths (top). The return of the Attack Koala from Zoombies. Give me ninety minutes of that and I’d have been more than satisfied. Hell, we’d have settled for ninety minutes of self-disparaging meta-snark about Asylum movies. Instead, we get family drama and far too many scenes set in what must surely be the world’s least convincing Presidential bunker. If there are 25 more years before I see any follow-up to us, I’m fine with that.