Despite febrile themes of murder, suicide, and violent psychosis, and the presence of an oft-nude Natasha Richardson, director David Mackenzie is so obsessed with rendering Patrick McGrath’s saucy gothic as a refined affair that he forgets less ambitious things, such as sussing out a way to keep you awake. Richardson plays Stella, a sexually repressed wife in a barren marriage to a psychiatrist, Max (Hugh Bonneville), whose taken a position at a psychiatric facility run by the mysterious Dr. Cleave (Ian McKellen, in rare phoned-in performance). Stella meets and has an affair with rakish inmate/ex-wife killer Edgar (Marton Csokas). All hell—politely, we’re British—breaks loose. Asylum moves at a brisk clip that becomes monotonous, while its portrayal of mental aberration vacillates between vague and nonsensical. Ironically, for a movie centered on morbidity, Mackenzie shows a welcome way with the tossed-off bon mot but, in a project dealing with festering psychological disintegration, needs to slow down and smell the decay.