It is really a shame that for most directors and filmmakers the only time in their careers that they have the freedom to experiment with storytelling because I think we the audience lose out on a lot of really interesting work. Alas, the perception, and perhaps reality, is that general audiences don’t want to be challenged but want to have films that are escape and little more. It’s my hope that director Rania Ajani is able to continue making such visually appealing, unique films as we need those just as much as we need movies about giant robots.
Asylum Seekers is the story of several strangers all seeking refuge in a crowded asylum. The lives of these people have become too big, too complicated, and they are looking for a place to retreat from the world. Each of these potential patients is wrought with a myriad of issues but the biggest issue of all seems to be themselves, something they are not quite able to see. The problem for these wannabe patients though is that there is only one spot available in the hospital which forces the applicants to vie for a place of refuge. In order to win that space the five people must follow the direction of an unseen director who puts them through several tests and it is the results of these bizarre challenges that will choose who gets the last bed. What the people learn though is that while they may be crazy, the director is nuts and it may not just be the last of their sanity that is at risk during these tests but their very lives as well.
A dark comedy that is perhaps not strange enough and yet too strange at the same time. Asylum Seekers sits in the awkward spot of being too weird for most comedies yet it isn’t quite weird enough to get in on the cult status that so many seek. Just the same, this is a solid, well made film that is pretty fun. The acting is hit and miss, the actors not quite sure how far to take things and how much to reign themselves in, which is one of the things that skews the tone. This really is a very nice looking film and shows off how nice the RED cameras are to shoot digital films with.
I think the problem here for me is that because the film isn’t quite weird enough I just don’t feel that passionately about it. It isn’t bad, at all, but it isn’t great. It isn’t memorable. It’s fun, and will be worth a watch on an instant stream, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to see it. It does show a lot of promise for this director though and I look forward to seeing what they have in store for us next.
6.5 out of 10