The Experiment (2010)

The Experiment Poster

20 men are chosen to participate in the roles of guards and prisoners in a psychological study that ultimately spirals out of control.


"The Experiment" is a psychological thriller movie released in 2010. Directed by Paul Scheuring, the film stars A-list celebs like Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker. The plot is inspired by the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971.

Plot Summary
In the attempt to study the mental impacts of jail life, Dr. Archaleta organizes an experiment including 26 individuals, wherein they're divided into 2 groups - prisoners and guards. The subjects are separated inside an empty prison with no contact from the outdoors world. They're entrusted the respective functions to carry out while being observed through the installed cams.

Amongst the individuals are Travis (played by Adrien Brody), a peace-loving anti-war activist, and Barris (played by Forest Whitaker), a shy unemployed male. They start the experiment, initially, with a lively spirit. Travis is one of the prisoners while Barris is designated as a guard. The experiment's guidelines mention that it will be ended if any of the prisoners leave. The individuals were paid $14,000 if they finish the experiment, which was expected to last for two weeks.

Introduction of Power Struggles
As the days endure, the playful environment considerably moves as power characteristics end up being more pronounced. Barris, who was at first reluctant to show authority, begins abusing his power and maltreating the detainees. Travis, being a strong advocate for equality and human rights, demonstrations versus this subjugation leading him to conflict with Barris.

This power struggle escalates to a point where the scenario ends up being dire. Caught inside the confinements, without any interference from the doctors observing them, the topics are pushed to their psychological limits. The as soon as pacifist Travis is driven to violence in an effort to conquer Barris' authority and leave the synthetic jail. The 'guards' put in a totalitarian rule over the 'detainees,' using embarrassment and mental abuse to keep control.

The experiment concludes quickly, disappointing its expected two-week duration, with deadly consequences for some participants. Travis, along with some other 'detainees,' manages to leave, resulting in the termination of the experiment.

General Review and Reception
"The Experiment" works as a chilling representation of how power can quickly corrupt individuals and cause a total break-down of humankind. The extreme performances of Brody and Whitaker supplied profound depth to their characters. However, there was criticism for the movie's divergence from the real-life experiment upon which it is based. There were allegations that the film focused on drama and excitement over accurately representing the findings of the original study. In spite of these criticisms, the compelling performances and a thought-provoking story provided a peek into the dark elements of human psychology, making "The Experiment" a watch for people interested in the psychological thriller genre.

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