One of the more interesting films to emerge from the early 2000's, was this psychological horror from director Brad Anderson. Set in an old insane asylum in Massachusetts, the city council have hired an asbestos removal firm to clear the site, prior to renovation works.
Overwhelmed by the huge task in hand, but enticed by the lure of a huge bonus if they finish the job on time, the small group eagerly get to work. Even though they all feel a little uneasy about the old building.
One of the crew, Mike (Stephen Gevedon), discovers a box of old tapes in the basement. Listening to the contents, they appear to be the psychiatric sessions of a woman named Mary, who's suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder, and who apparently committed several crimes whilst believing herself to be one of the characters from her mind.
With Mike sneaking off at every opportunity to listen to the tapes and the rest of the work force running behind on the job, tempers start to fray and cracks begin to develop in the groups working relationship. Matters are not helped by the temperamental power supply, which keeps tripping out. Gordon (Peter Mullan), who owns the firm, not being able to run the job properly due to problems at home. Phil (played by a pre-CSI David Caruso) constantly trying to take over and run the job his way, and Hank (Josh Lucas) continually squabbling with Phil over a former girlfriend.
Strangely, the more Mike listens to the tapes, which get progressively sinister with each session, the more weird things start occurring, causing tempers to rise further. The crew also becomes convinced that someone else is watching them, as strange shadows can be glimpsed at times and strange sounds can be heard in vacant parts of the building.
As it is, they are already aware that the place has a notorious history, which is what caused it to close during the 1980s. But the longer the job goes on, the more convinced they become that something isn't right. Is it just a combination of stress and working in that environment that's causing the group to fall apart, or have the tapes unleashed something more sinister?
Tense, chilling, and very atmospheric, this is an excellent piece of psychological horror, which I'm surprised didn't get a wider release, having gone straight to Disc everywhere outside of the US. The use of a genuine, derelict asylum really added to the feel of the film, and it was interesting seeing David Caruso in a pre-CSI role.
Definitely one for people who prefer atmospheric chills, as opposed to blood and guts (being virtually blood free). If you haven't seen this one, then you should definitely do so.