Breaking into a long-abandoned mental hospital proves to be a lousy idea (who would’ve guessed?) in Eloise, a deeply unpromising debut horror flick by visual-effects veteran Robert Legato. Chace Crawford and Eliza Dushku lead a quartet of actors whose midnight break-in (and it’s a dark-and-stormy one, natch) somehow sends them careening back in time, interacting with a mad psychiatrist played by Robert Patrick. The cast’s familiarity will do little to help this dud attract viewers, even on VOD.
The group breaks into Eloise Hospital (a real place in Michigan, whose memory is not helped by the house-of-horrors caricature here) in search of records pertaining to Crawford’s dead aunt. He stands to inherit over a million dollars if he finds her death certificate, so he and a pal (Brandon T. Jackson) enlist a self-taught expert on the place’s macabre history (PJ Byrne, in an embarrassing man-child performance) and his sister/caretaker (Dushku) to explore the institution’s records room.
They’re soon being haunted by the place’s old patients and the doctors who performed inhuman experiments on them. (Patrick, slumming in a big way, is heard bragging about treatments that “submit our patients to their own phobic triggers” in order to cure those fears.) But things go much further: Though it never tries to explain the reasons or ground rules, the film soon has our heroes stuck in the past, tortured by Patrick’s evil Dr. Greiss and trying to influence events that happened decades earlier. In one real head-scratcher of a scene, they get caught up in a monochrome Jazz Age musical number.
After shamelessly exploiting fears of sadistic mental-health professionals, the pic closes with titles dedicating it to the patients and staff of the real Eloise, which it says was “well known and respected for ethical and charitable treatment.” Here’s hoping their ghosts don’t take offense at being treated so shoddily.
Production company: Buy Here Pay Here
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Cast: Chace Crawford, Eliza Dushku, Brandon T. Jackson, PJ Byrne, Robert Patrick
Director: Robert Legato
Screenwriter: Christopher Borrelli
Producers: Sanford Nelson, Tripp Vinson
Executive producers: Jeff Buhler, Don Foss, Sean Gowrie, Linden D. Nelson, Lisa Zambri
Director of photography: Antonio Riestra
Production designer: Bill Boes
Costume designer: Courtney Hoffman
Editor: Greg D’Auria
Composer: Ronen Landa
Casting directors: Deborah Aquila, Kathy Mooney, Tricia Wood
Rated R, 87 minutes