Movie Review: The Stanford Prison Experiment

By Thalia Badio, Contributor

[Sandbar; 2015]

Rating: 2/5

The Stanford Prison Experiment, based on an infamous and unethical experiment performed in 1971, is a movie with great promise and hype that unfortunately, to some degree, let audiences down.

The premise of the movie is both chilling and politically relevant, which inevitably is the story’s greatest accomplishment. The film is easy enough to watch, and admittedly captured most of my attention for the two hours it runs. Some of the best features were courtesy of music composer Andrew Hewitt, who layered the movie with pulsing and haunting basslines, mixed with abrupt and deafening silences. The script, however, written by three different, uncoordinated screenwriters, detoured my fixation from the plot to the unrealistic, and at times cringe worthy, dialogue.

The acting skills of performers in the movie were occasionally spotty. Heartbreaking and believable moments, such as scenes with actors Michael Angarano and Chris Sheffield, were overshadowed by over-dramatized and ridiculous performances by other inmates. Certain characters, such as Dr. Philip Zimbardo’s love interest and researcher Paul Vogel, seemed unnecessary and underdeveloped.

In all, The Stanford Prison Experiment is a warning about the dangers of a uniform and the dehumanizing properties of correctional institutions. However, the movie itself was only a mediocre representation of such an interesting and promising topic.

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