Madhouse (2004)

Rating: C-

Dir: William Butler
Star: Joshua Leonard, Jordan Ladd, Lance Henriksen, Dendrie Taylor

Clark Stevens (Leonard) is the new intern at Cunningham Hall, a run-down asylum run by Dr. Franks (Henriksen). But doctors and patients suddenly start dying, Clark keeps seeing the ghost of a child running through the building, and one of the posse of full-on madmen, who are kept out of sight in the basement, seems to know a disturbing amount about what’s going on, though he’s supposed to be locked in his cell. From here, things gently unravel, with the police being conveniently absent from proceedings, until it all ends with an ax-wielding maniac stalking the halls of the asylum, as lights flicker. And who would have it any other way?

There’s a couple of impressive murders and some creepy imagery, but the inevitable, supposedly unexpected twist is pretty much what you’d expect, especially if you’ve seen more than three “bad things happening in a mental hospital” films. There’s really only so much that can be done with the genre, and they use Option B here. That out of the way, what remains is not unwatchable, even if Leonard is doing his best to look like Johnny Depp (hey, who can blame him for that?). Ladd is the other intern, with a secret in her past, which appears to be a pre-requisite for employment here – I imagine they do some kind of background check to ensure it. Henriksen is Henriksen, and presumably signed up because he felt like visiting Romania, where this was made. While nothing special, this probably counts as tolerable enough, if you don’t have to hand over actual money for it.