Sanatorium

DVD by Zero Tolerance

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A daring but ultimately flawed experiment

Sanatorium is an interesting experiment, but isn't for everyone. Although marketed as a couples feature, it's more of an art film. For the general porn audience, the movie misses its mark.
Published:
Pros:
Beautiful locations, great cinematography.
Cons:
Confusing story, bland sex scenes, repetitive music.
Rating by reviewer:
1
extremely useful review

Content / Genre / Audience



The packaging and other marketing materials for this film indicate that the publisher considers it a feature for couples, but in reality this is a very different type of movie than most other films marketed that way. It is a feature film, in that it has a plot with an ongoing narrative tying everything together, but the plot is confusing and doesn't so much tell a story as provide a series of impressions of a tormented woman who goes on some sort of vision quest before figuring out how to take down a man she despises.

Although marketed as a couples film, I'd consider it more of an art film, with its many shots of Tabitha Stevens wandering around in the desert, closeups of scorpions skittering across the sand, and dreamlike juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated elements.

Those looking for a straightforward plot will be disappointed, as will those looking for wall-to-wall sex. Instead, the film is geared more towards those looking for a sensory experience of sound and color, with sex and story upstaged by surreal imagery.
    • Beautiful scenery
    • Incoherent plot

Actors

The cast is composed of Tabitha Stevens, Francesca Le, Mark Wood, Nick Manning, Raylene, Ron Jeremy, Tyler Knight, Kris Slater, James Deen, Lux Kassidy, Kagney Linn Karter, Sara Sloane, Alex Urban, Ashley Roberts, Ethan Hawk, High Pitch Eric, Matt Bianco, and Teddy Andreadis. (Many of these performers are in non-sex roles.)

Most of the actual sex scenes feature Tabitha Stevens. Here's a list of who performs in each sex scene:

Scene 1: Ashley Roberts and Tabitha Stevens are in a somewhat slow lesbian scene, with Nick Manning watching. My girlfriend and I found it a bit boring, as not much happens.

Scene 2: This is a pretty run of the mill scene with Sarah Sloane and Mark Wood. It's not a bad scene, but my girlfriend again complained that it was slow and uninteresting.

Scene 3: A POV scene involving Tabitha Stevens and an unidentified man (we only see his dick on screen) which I found rather unsexy. At first I thought it was a weird commentary on POV scenes, given the cheesiness and bad camera work (compared to the rest of the film, at least) but as the scene dragged on I became less sure of my initial conclusion. Tabitha has some amusing dialog at the end of the scene.

Scene 4: Tabitha Stevens and Kris Slater: A blowjob and some missionary-position sex. Nothing too exciting. Ron Jeremy's cameo (non-sex role) is probably the best part.

Scene 5: Francesca Le, Raylene, Mark Wood and Ethan Hawk. By this point the movie is getting to be really odd. This scene certainly adds to that. Tabitha watches the four have sex for a while, but it's creepy and there are awkward moments when everyone stops to stare at Tabitha. I'm not sure why it's like this.

Scene 6: Tabitha Stevens and Tyler Knight: hand job, blow job, sex in multiple positions. Probably not a bad scene, but by this point in the movie we were fast forwarding through much of it, and I think we saw most of this one in 4x fast forward.

Scene 7: Kagney Linn Karter and James Deen have a pretty good scene together. I tend to look forward to Kagney Linn scenes ... she's hot, but this isn't her best work.

Scene 8: Another Tabitha Stevens blowjob scene. I'm not sure who the guy was.

Scene 9: Nick Manning finally gets to participate in this scene with Tabitha Stevens. I honestly can't remember whether the sex was any good in this scene.

Given the heavy emphasis on plot in this film, I think the acting in non-sex scenes is worth discussing. Tabitha Stevens does a reasonable job, although some of her longer soliloquies can be tiring. Nick Manning's performance was rather wooden, and this really hurts the opening scenes of the film.
    • Bad acting / chemistry
    • Good presentation
    • Interesting costumes

DVD Features

The video quality is excellent throughout, especially on the outdoor shoots. Some of it is shot on film, the rest on video, but it's pretty seamless. The audio quality is pretty good, but I think the audio balance was a bit off at times, with the music a bit too loud. Some dialog was a bit muffled, and the sex scenes in particular suffered because the music was loud. Also, the music is extremely repetitive, with a single track looping throughout most of the film, with little regard to what's happening on screen.

There's a commentary track for the main feature, plus there's an entire disc of extras. The bonus disc includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and interview, along with two deleted scenes. (The deleted scenes are mostly just random landscape shots, scorpion closeups, etc., not sex scenes.) The best extras, in my opinion, are the four random extra scenes. The first two feature Sarah Sloane and the other two feature Kagney Linn Karter. Each scene is 20-30 minutes long, so there's a substantial amount of sex in these four scenes. Some viewers will get more out of these than the entire first disc.

Kudos to whoever designed the box for this release. This is some of the best design I've seen on a porn release in a long time. The image on the front makes Tabitha Stevens look stunning (unfortunately she doesn't look this good on screen) and the back makes the movie seem exciting.
    • Attractive design
    • Commentary options
    • Special features / bonus included

Personal comments

Some people really like this movie. So you should certainly read other reviews before making a purchasing decision; don't rely on my opinion alone. This film isn't for everyone, but if it's right for you, then I don't want to scare you away from it. This review shows that I (and my girlfriend) didn't enjoy it, but porn is a bit odd in that viewers nearly always have very specific tastes, and no single porn film will please everyone, yet at the same time nearly any pornography will find an appreciative audience, although that audience can vary greatly in size. I think the audience for this film is smaller than most, but those who do like it tend to really love it.

I think I understand what Tabitha Stevens and Gary Orona were going for here, and I certainly appreciate their effort, but it just didn't click for me. They put a huge amount of work into this film, and it's an admirable effort, but it was wasted on me.

Experience

My girlfriend and I really loved the scenery. We also appreciated the attempt at delivering a plot that does more than string together sex scenes. But neither of us could get into the story, nor did we find any of the sex scenes exciting. So overall, it just didn't work for us.
This product was provided free of charge to the reviewer. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.
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Comments
  • Airen Wolf
    Airen Wolf  
    I have to agree that this is more art film than porn. Great review.
  • Miss Voluptuous
    Miss Voluptuous  
    I think the title of your review is a pretty accurate description of the film.
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