The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment ★★★½

“And now, I know what I’m capable of, and it hurts”

Comparing this latest visualization of the infamous ’71 psychological experiment by the same name, to the 2010-film The Experiment (centering around the same case) is like night and day. Where the Adrien Brody-led picture felt like a bastardization of any real psychological gain in favor of a simple action-flick, this new film takes a refreshing approach to really try and tell the story – even if it comes with the obvious creative liberties. The bleak cinematography by Jas Shelton matches well with the stale design to create a superb look for a grimy story of this kind.

With that said, the feel of the early ‘70s is also captured well, with some fun ways to bring back the times through both the characters’ looks as well as the environment outside of the “prision”, topped of with some surprisingly experimental camera-work. This bleak look fits the dark subject matter of The Stanford Prison Experiment but it also makes the more light-hearted bits feel sort of off and the psychologists that observe the experiment are turned into dumb goofs on more than one occasion.

There’s a sense that something is missing in this otherwise well-made picture and I do think it could be that the film ties its knots together a bit too quickly as the climax has arrived and only gives brief glimpses of interviews where it could’ve developed things more. Still, Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s film is – despite an expected progression – a very well-acted pieces with enough austere parts to leave its marks.

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