Bedlam (Movie Review)

With the array of Horror movies out today, it is not uncommon for there to be the occasional not so great one. Unfortunately, latest release Bedlam, by After Dark Films and Diabolic Pictures released on April 14th, falls into the latter category. Written and directed by Chew Barker as his debut film, the events in Bedlam are supposedly based on true events, and allegedly the footage was found after the Bedlam Psychiatric facility was closed. Filming took place in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, with the majority of events in the film set within the facility, or the patient’s mind.

Still from Bedlam

In the not so distant past, psychiatric institutions and psychiatric treatments ranged from macabre to tortuous and near psychopathic. It was often the case the Doctors were more disturbed than the patients they attempted to treat, and quite often sane people were misclassified as being insane. Bedlam focuses on the story of George Kilner (Guy Edmonds: House Husbands 2013, Wingman 2014), a deeply troubled schizophrenic man who finds himself in the Bedlam facility plagued by horrific auditory and visual hallucinations. George is being treated by Doctor Black (Peter McAllen: The Tunnel 2011, Dr. Who 2012), who bares an uncanny resemblance to Sigmund Freud and uses much the same treatment techniques.

Still from Bedlam
Still from Bedlam

George does not respond well to his treatment, and it appears from the other patients, like ‘Cutter’ (Gary Boulter: Packed to the Rafters 2013, Nameless: Blood and Chains 2013-2014) are not responding positively either. As each day passes, the treatments that George and the other patients are subjected to become more extreme, violent, and even deadly. Doctor Black is joined by a man named ‘Keeper’, played by John Boxer, whom Australians will recognize from the TV Fat Pizza and its sequels (World Record Pizza 2006, Pizza 2000-2007). Doctor Black, the rest of the lecherous staff, and ‘Keeper’ amp up the medieval machines to test his own unconventional research into the human mind. When George finds himself at the mercy of Doctor Black, he must delve deep within himself to live. It is not just the Doctor, his staff also follow the same twisted rules. Can George’s will to live and determination get him through his stay at the dark hospital, or will it be the death of him? Scene by scene, George’s mental state unravels further, and he finds himself deeper and deeper in trouble, and more than just his tenuous mental health.

Still from Bedlam
Still from Bedlam

At one hundred and two minutes run time, Bedlam is a full feature film, yet upon viewing it, it perhaps would have benefited from an extra set of eyes. Bedlam contains an array of scenes that appear to be purely for shock value, having no actual benefit in driving the story forward, or explaining what is happening. The cinematography by Chris Bland (Looking for Heroes 2014, Banter 2015), is surreal, unfocused, and hard to follow. The movie flashes back and forwards randomly as well as taking long introspective looks into the patients’ minds, and pasts. The special effects are unpredictable, strong language, and the graphic nature of the violence and nudity do not correlate with the plot. There is little story to support the events that take place, making the movie difficult to get into, and does not pull the viewer in. Depressing and disturbing for all the wrong reasons, Bedlam feels almost like a first or second draft of the story; not yet finished. The acting by the diverse cast is equally shaky, and despite a good effort, do not really pull it off. With all the fantastic Australian Horror films out there, Bedlam is one to miss. CrypticRock gives Bedlam 1 out of 5 stars.


Watch Bedlam on Amazon

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