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Haunted Hospital: Heilstatten (2018)
Well Go USA
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/12/2019
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/11/2019
When we think about foreign films, we often picture high-class, intellectual movies. Be it period pieces from England, the French “New Wave”, or tragic romances from Japan, foreign films are simply more high-class then American movies, right? Well, not necessarily. A great many (far, far too many) low-budget American movies have taken advantage of abandoned, derelict buildings and used them as filming locations. A vast number of these movies have framed their settings as haunted mental hospitals, a sub-genre which has become so cliched that it now seems like a joke. So, imagine my surprise and disappointment to discover that the German film Haunted Hospital: Heilstatten has adopted this approach. Can they bring some class to this hackneyed idea?
Youtube icons Prankstazs, who are Charly (Emilio Sakraya) and Chris (Davis Schulz), have convinced their friend Theo (Tim Oliver Schultz) to grant them access to “Heilstatten”, a notorious mental hospital that he helps to guard. The place may now be in ruin, but it’s infamous for the cruel treatment which occurred there decades ago. Joining Charly and Chris will be Betty AKA Bettyful (Nilam Farooq), another social media sensation. Marnie (Sonja Gerhardt), who hosts an on-line show in which people face their fears, has also tagged along. The goal is to spend 24 hours in the facility and document it all for webcasts. The group arrives and begins to explore the place, setting up cameras and teasing one another. But, as night falls, strange things begin to happen. Is the old hospital really haunted?
Let’s re-visit the original premise again, as it made me immediately disappointed in the film. (Disappointed probably isn’t the right word. But, again, I expect more from foreign films.) I’ve seen so many “abandoned mental hospital which may be haunted” movies that I’ve lost count. (And the only one which I can remember being good was 2005’s Boo.) At this point, this kind of movie can only be considered lazy. (Although, playing devil’s advocate, maybe this sub-genre hasn’t saturated Germany yet.) Adding insult to injury is the fact that this is a found-footage movie. I thought that sub-genre had died. Apparently not. But, watching Haunted Hospital: Heilstatten reminded me of why I wasn’t sad to see the number of found-footage movies dwindle.
So, the movie makes some poor stylistic choices, tapping into some hackneyed ideas – how is the rest of the film? The answer to that question is, not very good. Haunted Hospital: Heilstatten makes one of the most common mistakes amongst horror films – it presents us with unlikeable characters. Charly and Chris are almost indescribably obnoxious and Betty is very irritating. How are we supposed to care about characters that we can’t tolerate? Is the movie asking us to be cheer for the demise of these people? Marnie is supposed to be the audience’s link to the film, but she’s incredibly underdeveloped and she disappears for a good chunk of the second act.
Haunted Hospital: Heilstatten clearly hangs its hopes on the twist which appears in the third act, but by the time it arrives, most viewers will have given up on the movie. To be fair, the twist is somewhat surprising, but given a moment of thought, one realizes that it’s very far-fetched. So, with Haunted Hospital: Heilstatten what we ultimately get is a group of unappealing characters who are running around a dilapidated building screaming and saying nasty things about one another. The movie makes some attempts to be creepy, but these scenes often result in simply being uneventful. On the whole, I could probably count on one hand the number of German films that I’ve seen (with at least three of them being from Jorg Buttgereit). I’m always up for foreign horror films, but I’m suddenly wary of movies from Deutschland.
Haunted Hospital: Heilstatten suggests that the 1988 music video for “Parents Just Don’t’ Understand” is very influential in Germany on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Well Go USA. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, most notably that Fresh Prince background. The movie contains several scenes which are shot in near dark, but the action is always visible. Being a found footage film, which get the kind of built-in static and rolling which comes with the genre, but the transfer is good. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is an active track as it highlights sounds coming form the deserted building in the front and rear channels. Some of these effects are nicely detailed. There are occasional “booms” which offer some subwoofer effects.
The lone extra on the Haunted Hospital: Heilstatten Blu-ray Disc is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long