I’ve once again been hit over the head, tied to a chair, and forced to watch another found footage movie. Okay, it’s not that drastic, but it’s kinda my job to do so. Apparently there are an endless string of movies. Luckily Sanatorium has a more interesting premise than other films of the sub-genre.
A team of TV ghost hunters – much like the TV show Ghost hunters – are preparing for their one hundredth episode. The team consists of The Couple, The Dick, The Random Girl, and The Token Black Guy. They’re given access to the Hillcrest Sanatorium as the subject matter for their centennial episode. According to reports in 1955 a patient left his room, proceeded to the children’s ward, killed three children while they slept, and then committed suicide.
The team is lead around the sanatorium during the day by its caretaker. The next night they return to set up their equipment. This is where things inevitably go terribly wrong. To be honest a lot of it is their fault. Much like the Ghost Hunters TV show our investigators have questionable investigative techniques and act silly around anything remotely resembling the paranormal.
As with all found footage movies the cameras act as one of the characters. Firstly we’re shown the normal shaky cams held by the other actors as they flair their arms to and fro, while shouting, “S**t,” “F**k,” and, “Oh God!” We’re also given static cams set up in the different rooms. These shed more light on the situations, but the angles get old fast.
Our human actors are what you’ll expect from the genre. Each of them is annoying and not likable in any way. The female half of The Couple is given the additional attributes of pregnancy and later stepping on a rusty nail. That should make her likable, right? No, because we just don’t care enough about her. Why does she immediately think all ghost in a sanatorium are friendly?
Sanatorium has taken direction from Paranormal Activity. The film hardly shows any entities – to save on budget, of course – but does show their effects during the movie. At times chairs move, whispering can be heard, and shadows creep. You could say these were quite… haunting? No? Okay, I’ll move along. To be honest I was impressed by the minimalism but the blood effects left much to be desired.
The movie tries to build tension with the previously mentioned special effects. While I commend their effort, the real “horror” is created with predictable jump scares. I often found myself tensing up as I knew when each scare was coming, but that’s not the way a horror movie should scare you. It cheapens the experience.
Overall Sanatorium is a sub-par horror movie. It’s marred by bad acting, camera work, and other tropes of the fount footage sub-genre. It’s worth a rental, or waiting for it to show it’s pale, ghostly form at some obscene hour on television.
I know a movie is bad when it doesn’t even have a poster on IMDB.