7 Underrated Movies Set in a Mysterious Facility with a Deadly SecretVika
When it comes to making a creepy, atmospheric movie, it all depends on the location, the location, the location. Of course, sometimes it's helpful to set the action in a familiar setting, to counter any threat that may haunt our protagonists (like Halloween). But in terms of creating atmosphere, nothing beats a place that's already creepy, and few places can beat a mysterious establishment where there's more going on than meets the eye.
Such a setting not only immediately brings a lot of great atmospheric locations to the film, but also introduces intricate psychological elements.
1. I'm a cyborg, but that's okay.
Acclaimed director Park Chan-wook continued his revenge trilogy with an eccentric and invisible film about a pair of mental hospital patients who fall in love while protecting each other without getting in the way of their delusions or idiosyncrasies. Yang-Gun believes that she is a cyborg, while Il-Soon suffers from schizophrenia and believes that, among other things, he can take on the traits of the people around him. Together they form an unlikely bond that includes fantasies of destroying all the "men in white" running the facility, as well as going into a torrential thunderstorm in the hopes of being struck by lightning to recharge Yang-gun.
Doctor turned patient is a classic twist on dozens of psychological thrillers. Throw in a potential ghost story to that and you have this Dark Castle Entertainment movie. For those who don't remember Dark Castle, they made a whole series of stylized horror pictures in the early 2000s. Gothic was the company's first completely original production in which Halle Berry plays a psychiatrist in prison after she is accused of killing her husband. As she tries to figure out what really happened, she learns that the people in this place are keeping secrets and she needs to figure out which of the characters she can trust, including Robert Downey Jr.
3. Page of madness.
Lost almost half a century ago, this Japanese silent film boasts an impressive pedigree. One of the screenwriters is Yasunari Kawabata, the first Japanese writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, while Eiji Tsuburaya, co-writer of Godzilla, is credited as the cinematographer's assistant on the film. The story takes place in a rural orphanage where a man works as a janitor in penance for driving his wife, now a patient, insane with his cruelty. Much of the film is dedicated to the janitor's fantasies and dreams that blur the line between the asylum's inhabitants and those who can come and go as they please. Produced by a group of avant-garde artists called "Shinkankakuha" or "School for New Perception", "Madness Page" remains infamous to this day for its surreal imagery.
4. Isle of the damned.
Even the most overused cliches can be picked up by the right cast and crew, and when you have Martin Scorsese adapting Dennis Lehane's novel, you're on the right track. Add to that the setting to create Boston's eponymous Shutter Island and its hospital for the criminally insane, a soundtrack, and a star-studded cast, and you've got a picture to be reckoned with.
5. New mutants.
Released in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, The New Mutants has already experienced a host of production difficulties and witnessed a shuffling of talent both on and off the camera. The end product, however, is a strange mix of superhero film, coming-of-age story, and horror film about a group of young mutants who believe they are being trained to use their powers in a dark facility, but are actually being manipulated and persecuted by their imaginary guardians.
6. Medicine for health.
Despite director Gore Verbinski previously directing modern horror classics (US remake of The Ring) and Disney blockbuster (Pirates of the Caribbean), his passion project The Cure for Health was a box office failure. It's a shame because this bizarre and convoluted story about a financial firm executive who travels to the Swiss Alps to bring back a company CEO who has checked into a mysterious "wellness center" and refuses to return has an atmosphere. Aside from its reliable 146-minute running time, the film's very intricacies may have worked against it, as it's hard to sell The Cure without delving into spoilers about what our protagonist finds there. Rest assured, this is something much stranger than the typical twists and turns you might have seen in other films, and by the time the film reaches its completely insane third act, we're already entering insane science and high gothic territory.
7. Ninth configuration.
As far as movies go, they don't get much weirder than William Peter Blatty's directorial debut, adapted from his own novel The Ninth Configuration. Look at some of the images that come up when searching for the movie, including perhaps the most memorable moment of an astronaut confronting the figure of a crucified Christ on the moon. The Ninth Configuration is equal parts comic farce and psychological thriller set in a castle that was converted into a hospital for soldiers who were suffering from mental illness at the end of the Vietnam War.