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One Star Classics


/ Scary Dwellings

Madhouse cover

You know Madhouse is just a liiiiittle bit smarter than your average Netflix gem, when a chiming cuckoo clock appears multiple times on screen during the 90 minute run. Cuckoo clock. Insane asylum. Get it? This is some clever stuff!

Really, though, Madhouse is quite a decent film. Compared to most horror movies on Netflix–and there are a lot of them–I'd go so far as to call it a downright masterpiece.

Joshua Leonard (you know him from The Blair Witch Project) leads a surprisingly OK cast (Leslie Jordan! Lance Henriksen! Pre-Orange is the New Black, post-American Pie, middle-of-drug-binge Natasha Lyonne!) in a movie written and directed by William Butler, the same man who didn't just bring you Gingerdead Man 1 and 2, but also Gingerdead Man 3. (His presence was sadly lacking from Gingerdead Man Vs. Evil Bong when he, somewhat bizarrely, was busy directing Disney Game On.)

And the eponymous madhouse? Is the patient who ran away fifteen years ago haunting the building? Or was he caught, and, in what only can pass as movie-logic, placed in a deep dark cell without anybody knowing? Either way, somebody is offing the institution's employees and patients. Thankfully J-Leo is on the case, and it will come as little surprise that the movie has both twists and turns, leading to a conclusion that will leave you shocked. Unless you actually half-way paid attention. Then you will not be left shocked.

But I'm being cynical. Madhouse is actually a very entertaining movie, and a lot more professionally executed than most of its ilk. The cinematography is solid–some decent echoes of both Vertigo and Suspiria–and there is even some commentary on the state of the US mental health system in there.

Most importantly, I suppose, is that it's a fairly creepy movie. So many low-budget horror films tend to be remakes of remakes of remakes of something that was pretty bad to start off with. Madhouse is just different enough to be interesting, and it features some actual original scares.

It's not Silence of the Lambs or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but Madhouse is good enough that you will pause it when you need to use the bathroom. That's pretty high praise.

By Remi,

Letterboxd summary: A young psychiatric intern unearths secrets about the mental health facility in which he works.

Ratings from around the web

Icon Site Score
One Star Classics logo One Star Classics 3/6
Letterboxd logo Letterboxd 2.5/5
IMDb logo IMDb 5.4/10
One Star Classics logo Classicmeter™ 51%

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