The Experiment (2010)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:

There’s barely anything to ever watch in the first few months of the year. Sometimes you’re lucky, but most of the time…there’s just nothing to see. That’s when you start to think…oh wait…there’s a whole line of Netflix Instant Queue waiting for me on the television. Most of the time, Netflix movies aren’t all that great, I believe that’s why, in part, they are on Netflix. I will say, though, that however good or bad the movie ends up being, there’s usually a lot more originality than what you’d expect from the mainstream box office hits. I have respect for a film if it can at least pull off originality. So The Experiment was the next movie on my list, and the main thing that lured me to this film, I will admit, is the participation of Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker, tow very well-versed actors in the film industry. Seeing them together just feels right. But how does the film fair? Weird, man, weird.

The ‘experiment’ in question is a psychological research program in which volunteers agree to take part in for two weeks in order to win $14,000 each. The idea is simple – it’s a simulation in which one group of volunteers play the prisoners while the other take part as the prison guards, and all they have to do for the entire 14 days is play it through and follow the rules. The rules were pretty straight forward – no violence, no poor behavior, eat three times a day – yatta yatta. Though, when it becomes clear that the method of choosing roles was reversed, the reasonable volunteers (prisoners) have to find a way to deal with their violent, ruthless, and cold captors. Sometimes rules were meant to be broken.

What in the world did I just watch? I can’t even decide if I think the movie is good, bad, or somewhere in-between. What it certainly isn’t, is logical. I get what they were trying to do: psychologically expose our inner animalistic instincts in an impossible situation of the disharmony of ethics and honor …or something like that. Basically – the lengths you would go in order to do the right thing – I get that, what I don’t understand was how in the world these guards lost their minds so fast. I mean, this was like great friendly guys turning into Carrie after blood was dumped on her prom dress loco. The transformation was simply put, unrealistic. I liked the confrontations, I liked the acting, but the situation felt way too fake and controlled – which ultimately lessens the overall experience.

Like I said though, the acting isn’t bad, thanks to tremendous performances by Brody and Whitaker. Not only them, but almost the entire cast did a great job at presenting an individually important character with loads of background development and diversity. You like all of the characters, including our evil guards. The writing, however, was super tacky. It feels like a Netflix Instant film just because. There’s nothing substantial enough here for anyone to really want to actually buy the thing. It’s an interesting film with an interesting concept that’s kinda cool to watch when you’re bored, but beyond that, you’ll forget it in the following week.

The Good:

What you have here is an interesting film with an interesting concept with a ton of great characters and acting.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, The Experiment fails on almost every other level – the writing, the idea is a bit over-the-top when considering the timeframe, I mean even the editing, lighting, sound editing, and direction wasn’t super special. They did their job and moved on…unfortunately – this is one of those “watch when you’re bored” films.

Memorable Quote:

Nix: Still think we’re higher on the evolutionary chain than monkeys?

Travis: Yeah, ’cause we can still do something about it.

7 thoughts on “The Experiment (2010)

  1. I thought this was pretty good. Interesting. I like the concept of the Standford Experiment upon which it’s based. I liked how Whitaker (SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE READING COMMENTS) was just pathetic again post-experiment on the bus. I think the film’s mildly realistic because many of the guards, namely Whitaker’s character, were just quiet and kind workers who – when put in a position of complete power – lost their sh*t and went on a power trip. But maybe a more realistic portrayal would have been a more gradual personality change. Here’s a link for some info of the Stanford Prison Experiment, if you like psychology and want to take a look-see:

    I’m curious to watch the original movie called Das Experiment. German flick made in 2000, I believe. Same story, just much better apparently. Usual with remakes, haha.


      1. Really? It just seems to me that remakes sometimes aren’t that great, but maybe I should imply horror remakes specifically. Not always the case, but I find it can be a commonplace. Though, I did like the Dawn of the Dead remake much more than Romero’s original


      2. Most of the time, I’ll admit, I refuse to see the original if I hadn’t at that point, especially if it’s really old, or specifically foreign. I review for modern audiences and expectations, therefore if there are two versions, the older one suddenly becomes a moot point. Hard to explain lol


  2. I do perfectly agree with every single word in your review except for the part in which you say “I get that, what I don’t understand was how in the world these guards lost their minds so fast.”.
    I’ve studied Zimbardo and his experiment which is so famous because of is unethic nature and the way it went easily out of control. That was indeed a pretty much unexpected result at that time, and as you say in the review, still today 😀
    Anyway there are a lot of differences between the real and the fictional version of it and still, i understand that someone who is new to this kind of interaction can easily find they way it is showed “fast” and “unreal”. But, sadly, it isnt’t.
    Could they have done it better on screen? Sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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