Blerd Film Club: Crazy As Hell (2002)

I can't say horror, suspense, thrillers, or whatever they're calling them this year, bring me a ton of joy. Especially not slasher flicks. Every now and then, a psychological horror film will come along and I'll get some joy from it. One film that has popped up on my radar a few times is an independent film from 2002 called Crazy as Hell. It stars seasoned veterans Michael Beach as Dr. Ty Adams and Eriq La Salle as Satan. That's right, I said Satan. Prince of Darkness, Angel of the Pit, Lucifer, Old Nick or whatever you want to call him.

The film begins with Dr. Ty Adams arriving at a mental institution. There he'll be filming a documentary with his alternative style of treatment. Therapy, over medication. He's immediately in conflict with Dr. Delazo who disagrees with how to treat patients as well as the documentary. He meets some of the patients and makes an immediate impact when he convinces a woman who kisses him to apologize.

Things go well the first few days with Dr. Adams making some progress and developing plans for the patients in his wing of the hospital. One night, a patient checks himself in during the night shift and assigned to Dr. Adams. The patient introduces himself as Satan. Satan is looking for a soul. In subsequent therapy sessions Satan reveals that he feels angry. He feels blamed for the things that human kind does because of their impulses. Satan blames God because mankind is made in his image after all. However, he doesn't hate God but feels sorry for mankind. His exact words, "I think that is so fucked up."

Satan begins to befriend Dr. Adams. In once scene he shares a urinal with him promising not to pee on him unless he'd like it and "as you can see when God started making these things I was first in line," joking about his penis. It's an odd scene but it shows how alluring Satan is to everyone, including Dr. Adams who is a straight man. When Satan repeatedly brings up Dr. Adams' wife and daughter the friendship sours. This leads to Satan throwing a dance party for patients on the ward to make Dr. Adams' job harder.

Dr. Adams' plans an outing to a park to help his patients adjust to real life. He doesn't invite Satan who takes offense and gets invited by Dr. Delazo. Satan quickly ruins the picnic and demonstrates his control over the patients. Before addressing the issue he's confronted by Parker, the documentary director. Parker has witnessed Dr. Adams' talking to his daughter and wife when nobody is around as well as his arrogance. It's revealed that Dr. Adams' daughter was schizophrenic and committed suicide. He was attempting to treat her himself. The grief caused his wife to die.

Sherell, a patient Dr. Adams had taken great care to watch over makes it to the roof in a suicide attempt. Previously Dr. Adams had replaced her medication with a placebo while she was going through withdrawals. He locks the door to the roof and attempts to talk her down. However, Satan is already there. While Dr. Adams attempts to save her Satan forces Dr. Adams to admit he's only trying to save her because his daughter had the same condition and jumped to her death. Sherell jumps and Dr. Adams declares war on Satan.

Dr. Adams attempts to track down information about Satan. He learns that he's really a man named Michael Barnett. He suffers from PTSD after witnessing his father, a baptist preacher, die at the hands of a drug addict. He demands Barnett be placed in solitary. With the documentary canceled Dr. Adams says his goodbyes. He's stopped by Micahel's mother who gives him a basket of apples for her son. He goes to Michael's cell to see it is empty. Turning around he sees that Mrs. Barnett was Michael in drag. He chases Michael through the hospital. Once making it to his room, he doesn't find Michael. He finds his own dead body with his throat slit. It's at this point he realizes that he's been in Hell the entire time.

The twist ending was wonderfully done. It's not an original twist, but it is a twist that isn't often done well. I actually watched the film twice just to make sure it didn't come out of nowhere. The hints were really subtle but they were there. The entire film Dr. Adams is sweating heavily, but nobody else is. He constantly sees visions of his wife who brings up all of his issues with ego and never accepting he's wrong. Still, he never sees his daughter. His wife is just his personal demons eating at him. If you're quick with the pause button, the newspaper articles in Satan's room, are about the death of Dr. Adams' wife and daughter. His introduction wasn't one to the ward, but to Hell. Satan wanted a soul, his soul. Dr. Delazo repeatedly mentions that Adams would "rather kill yourself than admit you're wrong," a phrase his wife's apparition and Satan repeat to him. To quote Mrs. Barnett "God works in mysterious ways, while the Devil plays in stranger ways."

Is usually don't give away all the major plot points when I review a film, but I didn't mind for this one. The reason being is there's so much more substance to this film. The parts that got me to rewind were the constant showdowns between Dr. Adams and Satan. It wasn't a battle of good and evil that is so often portrayed in horror movies. Instead it was a battle of admitting that you have faults the same as any man or woman. Ty Adams repeats the phrase that he's a good man over and over again throughout the film, most notably when he realizes he's in Hell. He may truly believe that he is a good man, but his arrogance allowed him to end up in Hell because he could not admit that he was wrong. He's asked "then why are you here," which means that there is doubt inside of him about if he's a good man or not.

Reading over some of the original reviews the film was called over-ambitious for a directorial debut. Unfortunately, they were far off base. Eriq La Salle actually two prior films as well as several television episodes before Crazy as Hell. Additionally, even if it was ambitious it was pulled off well. Eriq La Salle and Michael Beach may not be names that perk up ears across the world, but they are what is now referred to as "Black Famous." Between the two of them they appear in Lean on Me, Coming To America, Drop Squad and Soul Food. They're exceptionally talented actors and the scenes with the two going back and forth verbally carry the film. Not only with skill but on screen chemistry. I would recommend this film anyone even if you aren't a fan of the genre. Also, just give Sinbad a shot.

You can check out some of my fiction at 12 AM Fiction or follow my web serial Exsanguinate and of course hear me on the Powerbomb Jutsu podcast.
Blerd Film Club: Crazy As Hell (2002) Blerd Film Club: Crazy As Hell (2002) Reviewed by Darrell S. on Wednesday, February 05, 2020 Rating: 5

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