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.
What you have here is an interesting film with an interesting concept with a ton of great characters and acting.
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.
Nix: Still think we’re higher on the evolutionary chain than monkeys?
Travis: Yeah, ’cause we can still do something about it.