Madhouse Review

Madhouse (2004)

Starring: Joshua Leonard, Jordan Ladd, Natasha Lyonne
Directed by: William Butler



Ever notice how almost every movie set in a loony bin has at least one character smear shit everywhere? What's up with that?

In Madhouse, psychiatric intern, Clark Stevens, moves to Cunningham Hall in hopes of a residency, but instead uncovers dark secrets about the facility.

Even though, objectively, psych ward movies tend to have a lot of similarities -- the "Nurse Ratched" character, the stoic, warden-like head doctor, the aforementioned shit smearer -- I still find myself able to enjoy them for the most part. Madhouse wasn't an exception.

Straight from the beginning, the opening scenes are nice foreshadowing to the plot twist at the end as well as a huge red herring. These scenes have nothing to do with each other, but are worth noting as when you hit the end, it hits you like a ton of bricks. Leading through the plot was a very good recurring clue related to the upcoming twist as well, which I thought was very nicely done.

Aside from plot twists, I did very much enjoy the story line itself. There was plenty of creepiness, plenty of character development and a plethora of excitement to balance the drama.

Character wise, Madhouse has a decent amount of star power, enough for much of the faces to be familiar and set the bar for how well you would expect the movie to perform. I can say, in my opinion, it excelled in this department. I fully enjoyed Joshua Leonard (more known for the Blair Witch Project) in the lead role with Jordan Ladd as Sara, a great supporting character. Alice (played by Natasha Lyonne) was not a letdown, either, in any way, shape or fashion.

I will say Dr. Franks (Lance Henriksen) felt a bit stuffy and more par for the course, but all in all, it wasn't a bad role. It just feels you know what to expect from him.

It is very easy to say of all the performances in the film, Mark Holton (of Leprechaun fame) was the biggest scene stealer and all around one of my favorite actors in the movie. On a side note (and a bit of trivia), though, the transvestite character in the titular "Madhouse" was played by Todd Stites, who was also the post-production supervisor. In the final scene in the film, the building shown is named the "Stites Mental Facility".

One of the best parts about this film is its atmosphere. When Clark initially enters the facility, it's almost completely typical of any mental health facility, save for his first encounter. Soon into the tour, though, he is taken to the lower depths where the actual "Madhouse" is located. Here is where the scenery completely changes. Here is where you get some of your more wild, but stereotypical characters. Here is where it gets dark and disgusting and doesn't apologize for it! I liked it. Except for the shit guy. Ew.

Though the special effects aren't very common, they were very well done. There is a good amount of gore without being gratuitous. Think quality over quantity. One of my personal favorite scenes involves Nurse Hendricks and an electro-shock machine. Another stereotypical, but very well done kill scene.

I thoroughly enjoyed Madhouse and all it had to offer. I mean, there were a few minor gripes, but nothing that really sat out as making the movie not worth watching. This is definitely a good rainy day film for any horror geek to enjoy. Especially if you like psych ward films. Or shit smearers. Ew.


Plot

Characters

Setting/Atmosphere

Special Effects


Overall Rating: Delightfully Maddening

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