Stonehearst Asylum

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Stonehearst Asylum
Stonehearst Asylum poster.jpg
Teaser poster
Directed byBrad Anderson
Written byJoseph Gangemi
Based on"The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether"
by Edgar Allan Poe
Produced by
CinematographyThomas Yatsko
Edited byBrian Gates
Music byJohn Debney
Distributed byMillennium Films
Release date
  • October 24, 2014 (2014-10-24) (US)
Running time
113 minutes[1]
CountriesUnited States, Bulgaria
Box office$3.2 million[2]

Stonehearst Asylum, previously known as Eliza Graves, is an American Gothic film directed by Brad Anderson and written by Joseph Gangemi. It is loosely based on the 1845 short story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether"[3] by Edgar Allan Poe. The film, starring Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, and David Thewlis, was released on October 24, 2014. The Malayalam movie Athiran (2019) was reported to have been inspired by this movie.[4][5][6]


In 1899, an Oxford University professor demonstrates a case of female hysteria, Eliza Graves, before his class, including a young man. Though the patient protests that she is sane, the professor points out that all mental patients claim to be sane. The young man later arrives at Stonehearst Asylum, where he desires to take up residency. A group of armed men led by Mickey Finn allow him entry. Finn escorts him to the office of the superintendent, Dr. Silas Lamb, where the young man introduces himself as Dr. Edward Newgate from Oxford.

Newgate is surprised by Lamb's unorthodox methods. Lamb says that he does not believe in drugging or incarcerating his patients, and he encourages their delusions when he feels it will bring them greater happiness. As an example Lamb makes Newgate examine volatile Arthur Timbs who's family sold to a sideshow without any sedatives but just use his eyes with Newgate managing to calm Timbs down. Newgate becomes infatuated with Graves. During a fancy feast, Newgate and Finn argue, and, as a truce, Finn proposes a toast. Before Newgate can drink it, Graves causes him to spill his drink and quietly insists that he flee the asylum, but Newgate refuses to leave without her.

Newgate discovers the actual asylum staff locked in the boiler room, who explain that Lamb and Finn drugged their drinks and led a revolt. Dr. Salt and Mrs. Pike warn Newgate that Lamb is a dangerous madman – a surgeon who murdered his patients during wartime, while Finn killed his mother and sister. Staff members Paxton and Swanwick escape but are hunted down and slain by several inmates led by Finn. Newgate attempts to recruit Graves, but she declines to become involved and tells him of Salt's abuses. When Newgate sneaks into Lamb's office to retrieve Salt's notes, he overhears Lamb and Finn conspire. Lamb forces Newgate to perform electrical shock treatment (ECT) on Salt. When Salt suffers amnesia, Lamb proclaims him cured of his delusion.

During the New Year's celebration, Finn murders a female patient, who is carried away by Timbs. Convinced that something must be done, Newgate attempts to spike the champagne. He is caught and Lamb prepares Newgate for electric shock therapy. Newgate reveals to Graves that he came to the asylum to rescue her once he saw her at the Oxford demonstration. Lamb grants Newgate a final request: to see a picture of Graves that he keeps in his pocket. When the picture turns out to be one of Lamb's victims, the shock causes Lamb to stagger out of the room in a daze. Finn attempts to take control, but Graves and Newgate lead a revolt against him, as the other patients have become scared of his violent nature.

As Finn is electrocuted to death by Arthur bursting into flames in the process, a fire breaks out. Graves leads the patients out of the building, and Newgate leaves to find Lamb, who is near-comatose from the guilt over his actions. Flashbacks reveal that Lamb, under pressure, executed his patients as a form of mercy kill. After they rescue the others, Newgate asks Graves to leave with him, but she says that she cannot be with him because he is normal. Newgate says that he is not normal, as he is in love with her, and has a secret to tell her.

Some time later, Graves' husband and the earlier Oxford professor arrive to be greeted by Timbs now the new gatekeeper. The professor asks for Mrs. Graves' release, but Mrs. Pike says that Newgate already released her. The Oxford professor reveals that he is actually Dr. Edward Newgate, and the man they knew is an escaped mental patient with pseudologia fantastica, on hearing this Lamb playing chess with Salt becomes amused and stifles a laugh in front of both visitors. Mrs. Graves and the imposter Newgate are shown in Tuscany, Italy, where they are known as Dr. and Mrs. Lamb. The two dance happily and embrace in the garden of what appears to be another asylum, run peacefully by nuns.



Principal photography began in Bulgaria on June 21, 2013.[12] On July 31, 2014, the film's title Eliza Graves was changed to Stonehearst Asylum.[13]


On November 25, 2013, John Debney was set to score the music for the film.[14] The soundtrack was released digitally on October 14, 2014, and was released physically on November 11.[15]


Box office[edit]

Stonehearst Asylum has earned a total worldwide gross of $3.2 million.[2]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 54% based on 56 reviews, and an average rating of 5.44/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Stonehearst Asylum offers over-the-top fun for genre aficionados; for others, however, it's likely to prove a dull disappointment."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17]

Common criticism for the film centered upon what the reviewers felt was the film's failure to live up to its full potential, considering its atmosphere and all-A-list cast.[18][19] The Los Angeles Times wrote, "On the surface, Anderson seems to have all the necessary pieces for a surreal psycho pop. But the fear factor eludes him, leaving Stonehearst Asylum more insipid than insane."[20]

Film Journal International and The A.V. Club both praised the film for its themes;[21] the reviewer for Film Journal International wrote, "While the film lacks the macabre humor of the original story, it does an excellent job of conveying the creeping horror of Victorian medicine."[22]

See also[edit]

  • Quills, a 2000 film in which Michael Caine plays a similar role
  • Shutter Island, a 2010 film in which Ben Kingsley plays a similar role
  • Athiran, 2019 Malayalam movie inspired by this movie


  1. ^ "STONEHEARST ASYLUM (15)". British Board of Film Classification. February 18, 2015. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Stonehearst Asylum (2014)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  3. ^ Kate Beckinsale in Talks for Edgar Allan Poe Adaptation ‘Eliza Graves’
  4. ^ "'Athiran' review: An enticing movie that falls short of expectations". The Hindu. April 13, 2019.
  5. ^ "Athiran review: An engaging psycho thriller".
  6. ^ "Athiran movie review: A mystery thriller".
  7. ^ "Kate Beckinsale in talks to lead psychological thriller 'Eliza Graves'". March 16, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  8. ^ "Jim Sturgess Joins Kate Beckinsale in Eliza Graves". April 2, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Michael Caine & Ben Kingsley Joining Brad Anderson's 'Eliza Graves'". April 12, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  10. ^ a b "David Thewlis And Brendan Gleeson Join Millennium's 'Eliza Graves'". June 17, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  11. ^ a b c "'Stonehearst Asylum' Commits to Boredom For Eternity". June 17, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  12. ^ "Eliza Graves is scheduled to begin shooting in Bulgaria on June 21st". March 16, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  13. ^ Polowy, Kevin (July 31, 2014). "Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine Meet Again in 'Stonehearst Asylum' Trailer Premiere". Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  14. ^ "John Debney to Score Ivan Reitman's 'Draft Day'". November 25, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  15. ^ "'Stonehearst Asylum' Soundtrack Details". October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  16. ^ "Stonehearst Asylum (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  17. ^ "Stonehearst Asylum Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
  18. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (October 23, 2014). "Caution: This Institution Processes Nuts". The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  19. ^ Cooper, Patrick (October 26, 2014). "[Review] Atmospheric 'Stonehearst Asylum' Is a So-So Period Thriller". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  20. ^ Sharkey, Betsy. "'Stonehearst Asylum' has gothic air, can't lock in the terror". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  21. ^ Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy. "Brad Anderson goes back to the madhouse with Stonehearst Asylum". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  22. ^ McDonagh, Maitland. "Film Review: Stonehearst Asylum". Film Journal International. Archived from the original on November 8, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2014.

External links[edit]