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Film Review: The Experiment (2010)

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


Adrian Brody and Forest Whitaker star in the action thriller “The Experiment”. As we are introduced to Adrian as Travis, we find him a peace rallyist who has just lost his job. He meets a like minded girl name Kelly who shares his passion for life. Though, life is about to change at least for 2 weeks when he answers an ad that is looking for 26 men who will participate in a social experiment. It is in this interview process that he makes friends with another applicant Barris played by Forest Whitaker. They go thru a series of tests and interviews that establish their individual profiles which land them the opportunity to participate in what is being called an experiment. For 2 weeks at $1000 a day, the men are asked to play by the rules, do as instructed as they are taken to a remote location. The Experiment is a simulated prison environment where half of the team are chosen as the guards and the other half are chosen to be prisoners. All seems fine and playful at times as they all assume their new roles with the interest of making a nice payback in return. They are also instructed that no one can leave and no violence will be tolerated or the experiment will end and they will “all” lose the money.

I think the results of what transpires are pretty expected. We have a sense that as time goes on, the roles will start to weigh on them and a conflicts will arise. Paul Scheuring, I believe knew this going in, as the intro credits show us clips of violence between men and between animals. This is also reinforced later as the test subjects are subjected to these visions. The attraction in this film is that we expect a certain level of breaking points to occur depending on the personalities involved. In other words, a sense of enough is enough we know we can’t get hurt and we know that we are here to get paid. It also demonstrates the psychological breakdown of morals and personal convictions that can unravel when the environment it’s suddenly changed upon us.

Though what the experiment proves is that barriers get broken down and the reality begins to overshadow the illusion. “The Experiment” sets out to prove that its within our nature to adapt and to assume a certain level of expected behavior bases on isolation and base on circumstances. Days pass and the assumptions of authority and what is right and wrong get blurred in this simulated reality that becomes real for all of them. The performances by Adrian and Forest set the drama in play and the conflict that ensues to the very end. “The Experiment is a smart, emotion- filled action drama that ignites the screen. The tension of going too far is always at the back of your mind as the motions play out.

The details of the film cite this as a remake of the 2001 film titled “Das Experiment”. A film I remember by cover but have never seen. It also goes to cite that this movie is a remake of a movie based on a book that was inspired by the real-life Stanford prison experiment. The set is located in Des Moines, Iowa which feels exactly right for the intention of the film.


  1. I thought it was a really well done movie showing how learned behavior in man can come from not only his environment but from his fellow man. Also POWER played a major influence in how a man can change completely and selfishly in order to gain POWER. The reason money is so important in life because it gives us more power. The only downer was they could have been more creative in their humilitation techniques besides bathroom scenes. Another thing nonviolent punishment works best when done in front of the other men, and again not urinating and sticking ones head in the toilet(which has been done so many times on film)
    I did notice at the beginning they seemed to pick the men that the violent films they were shown were effeted by them, like Brody and I am sure Whiticker after seeing him enjoying an old B&W funny flick at home and enjoying it. And Brody was in a Peace march at the beginning.
    I wonder did the movie try to show that the majority of men in prison become violent or more violent, it was not clear on what the Experiment was truly trying to prove.

  2. I really appreciated the effort of making this movie, it really teaches me lesson for life and how to handle ourselves despite of our positions. Our characters really need to be tested. god bless you and more power. Inspire more……


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