Shutter Island” for the criminally insane. Let the inmates run the asylum inside your head while the outside world frets about spam email and overgrown lawns. Go make googley eyes at yourself in the mirror and relish in your inner nutcase, but just remember to love your pets and not use them as science experiments.
"Sucker Punch." Take one mental institution, throw in enough sadism and misogyny to make the Marquis de Sade back away slowly and you’ll end up with “Sucker Punch." Much like “Shutter Island,", the protagonist isn’t sure of any one reality and seeks to become the hero that is needed, the hero that is wanted. Here the criminally insane aren’t half as scary as the civilians that run the hospital. Almost immediately the depravity and corruption of the workers kicks off and progresses throughout the film, leaving no nook or cranny untouched by their slimy perspectives and even grimier hands. A film that blends disassociation with a bizarre sexism that leaves you unsure if it’s a biting statement or a personal perspective. In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether it was the predatory, creepy objectifying story or the abusive subject matter that made you the most uncomfortable.
"12 Monkeys." Brad Pitt plays a supporting character that is possibly responsible for a plague set to destroy humanity. Throw in Bruce Willis as the man that is either out to find out where the virus began or is just as insane as Pitt. A little time travel adds the last layer of spice to the dish of “12 Monkeys” and you’re off to the nut job races. With a great story that leaves you questioning the sanity of multiple people, this film has a great “Shutter Island” feel along with an ending that isn’t filled with cut and paste clichés. Fall into the asylum as you watch Pitt’s interactions with his fellow colleagues in the hospital and how, as a supporting character, there is no one more skilled at thriving in the background. An excellent movie that brings mystery and intrigue to a movie with insanity as its foundation and actually uses time travel as a structure that supports rather than detracts from the premise.
"The Jacket." Are there any mental health institutions where the patients get to grow gardens and attend behavioral therapy without a doctor, who grew up identifying with mad scientists, lurking around? “The Jacket” isn’t about those fairy tale places. Rather it relies on a driven doctor, played beautifully by Kris Kristofferson, who treats the hospital as his own private lab. Time travel gets another advocate in this film as Adrien Brody does his best to figure out what caused the emotional and mental damage of a woman who he becomes fixated on as she seems to be the only thing that is immune to his amnesia. With interesting twists and a hospital that breeds dread, this film like “Shutter Island" builds questions that have no easy answers even when the solution seems apparent. Enjoy the juxtaposition of Kristofferson’s detachment and fervor as the doctor who thinks the Hippocratic Oath was just friendly advice.
"Session 9." Much like antique furniture where you swear you can still feel the butt imprint of a confederate soldier, abandoned mental hospitals can carry on the insanity of its departed denizens long after they’ve died. In “Session 9” the hospital becomes the driving force behind the evil that gets unleashed in the asbestos removal crew that comes to clean the place up. The crew makes discoveries throughout the hospital that affect them in detrimental ways and the creepy feel of despair and derangement like “Shutter Island” sinks in and grips tightly to each and every member. The session tapes that are found and played throughout the film add a great layer of fear and burgeoning knowledge to the storyline and are worth paying strict attention to it.