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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Shows how far kindness and patience can go, although there's more than a little deception and trickery mixed up with them. Otherwise, characters merely wish to assert power over one another.
Positive Role Models
One character appears to be selfless and helpful, and he is, to some extent, but there's some deception involved with his motivations.
Violence & Scariness
A woman has a disturbing hysterical fit. A man hurls himself off a cliff. Dead bodies are shown. Characters fight and try to strangle one another. Knives and guns are drawn. A man is buried in a coal bin. Broken bottles are used as weapons. Characters catch on fire. Disturbing images of an asylum, with strange behavior, diseased and damaged patients, and general misery. "Cures" include electroshock therapy, water torture, and "nausea machines." In a flashback, many characters are shot and killed. Descriptions of violent events, a woman biting a man's ear off, a man killing a woman with a hammer.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A female patient seduces a male guard, allowing him to kiss her and then kissing him back. A man pats a nurse on her bottom. Some flirting and affection between the male and female leads. Drawings of a woman's anatomy on a chalkboard in the background of a classroom. "Chronic masturbation" is mentioned.
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"Shite" (English pronunciation) and "fecking" (English pronunciation) are used. "Jesus, Mary & Joseph" is used as an exclamation. Obscene finger gestures.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A sick character is said to have been given "four grains of heroin." Some characters drink in a casual, social way. (Some drinks are spiked with knockout drugs.) Characters smoke cigars in a casual way.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stonehearst Asylum is a thriller based on the Edgar Allan Poe story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether." Violence isn't particularly gory or extreme, but the movie does have some disturbing images of the inside of an asylum, as well as some fighting, death, weapons, and extreme "cures" (including water torture and a "nausea machine"). A female patient seduces a guard with kisses, and the moment leads to violence. There's some general flirting and affection between the male and female leads. Set in 1899, the language is archaic and includes the English affectations of "shite" and "fecking." Characters drink and smoke cigars in a background way, and knockout drugs ("Mickey Finns") are used in alcoholic beverages. Heroin is mentioned as medicine for hysteria. The movie is OK for stalwart teens, though horror hounds will be disappointed by the lack of gore; this movie is more about atmosphere and ideas than screams. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Brad Anderson (Happy Accidents, The Call) is one of our most reliable genre filmmakers; he rarely makes anything great, but, likewise, he rarely makes anything truly bad. Adapting the Edgar Allan Poe story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" with screenwriter Joe Gangemi, Anderson creates an immersive universe in the beautifully designed asylum. It's much like the modern-day asylum in his terrific Session 9 (2001), a three-dimensional space with a grim, sinister personality of its own.
All of the performers, including Brendan Gleeson in an small but crucial role, seem to be having a great time savoring the tricks and treats hidden within their characters. Anderson clearly takes delight in all the proceedings, which is one of the reasons his films feel fresh instead of lazy. The story's twists may not be all that opaque, and many genre fans could feel disappointed at being able to figure out what's going to happen, but that discredits the overall fun that can be had at Stonehearst Asylum.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.