Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, starring Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Berkel, Oliver Stokowski and Maren Eggert.
Based on the infamous Sanford Prison Experiment, this debut feature film from German director Oliver Hirschbiegel is an intense and visceral thriller.
A group of men, primarily motivated by financial reasons, volunteer to take part in a psychological experiment set in a simulated prison. Divided into prisoners and guards, the men are initially ill at ease in their roles but soon become assimilated into the prison environment as what started as an academic exercise rapidly becomes a matter of life and death. So far, so predictable but it's to Hirschbiegel's credit that he manages to keeps cranking up the tension as the experiment spirals out of the control of the watching scientists.
'Run Lola Run' star Moritz Bleibtreu plays the charismatic Tarek, prisoner 77 and an undercover reporter who is armed with a secret camera, adding another layer of observation to an already intensely voyeuristic film. In his search for a story, Tarek deliberately escalates the tense situation between the prisoners and the guards, creating situations for which he, despite his efforts at being an agent provocateur, is unprepared. The behaviour of the guards who are "following orders" is particularly disturbing in a country which is still haunted by the ghosts of its Nazi past.
After a measured start, the film builds up both pace and thrills as it races towards the climax. Few surprises here, but 'The Experiment' is still a satisfying adrenaline-packed rollercoaster of a film.