Friday, December 24, 2010

Candidate # 9


(July 2010)

“Throw some animals in a cage and you get to find out which one of us is gonna be the lions and which ones are gonna get gut.”
"I like to think we’re slightly higher on the evolutionary chain than monkeys.”

“It don’t matter how evolved you think we are. You lock up any animal long enough and the strong’s gonna eat the weak. That’s just the way it is.”

To make $14,000 in two weeks, Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker, and Clifton Collins, Jr. (among others) sign up for a behavioural experiment, which places them in pre-assigned roles-- prisoner or guard-- for fourteen days, in a simulation of life within the walls of a penitentiary.

Based on the novel, Black Box, by Mario Giordano (the novel, in turn, based on an actual experiment run at the Stanford University in 1971), and its German film adaptation, Das Experiment,* Paul T. Scheuring’s The Experiment is a largely bleak depiction of humanity that displays how terrifyingly easy it is for us to shirk our morality.

It’s about how power and authority can warp and corrupt, and how the roles society impresses upon us affect the way we act and see ourselves.

With a minimum amount of on-screen violence, Scheuring (who also gave us Prison Break) achieves here what many a “legitimate” horror movie fails to do; affect us on a disconcerting, primal level.

* I once had the opportunity to see Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Das Experiment, but passed on it; I’ve been trying to rectify that ever since…

Parting shot: Interestingly enough, there’s another upcoming take on the subject, The Stanford Prison Experiment, which, as indicated by its title, is based on the actual university experiment.

(The Experiment UK DVD cover art courtesy of

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