Imagine volunteering for an “experiment.”
You are a poor college student who could use the 15 dollars per day, for 1-2 weeks, that is being offered. The only stipulation is that you need to be male and a student of Stanford University.
These were the exact requirements for the 24 men who participated in one of the most controversial psychological experiments of all time. Director Kyle Alvarez brings to life the intriguing and sickening research of Dr. Philip Zimbardo. Zimbardo wanted to stimulate an actual prison, equipped with prisoners, guards, and a warden. The question to be answered: How would middle-class students adapt to being a part of an experimental prison?
Starring Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, and Michael Angarano, The Stanford Prison Experiment gives a riveting look into how easily an experiment can turn into reality. It is based on accounts from Zimbardo’s research novel about the experiment, titled The Lucifer Effect. This movie will shock you. You will be moved to tears, anger, and utter disbelief as you watch young men be broken down through verbal and emotional abuse. One moving scene occurs when Prisoner 8612, otherwise known as Daniel Culp, is placed in the Hole, a dark closet that disobedient prisoners are placed in. Only 36 hours had passed, and already Prisoner 8612 was hysterical, screaming and pounding his fists into the wooden door, begging to be released. In that dark moment, he actually believes that the “prison” is real.
The actors of the film do an amazing job recreating the pain and hopelessness the real life participants felt. The students “guards” creatively assume their roles by adopting Southern accents, dominating mannerisms, and toss all their morals out the window. While watching the film, it becomes deeply saddening as you to witness how much evil can lurk within an average person. The cinematography is spectacular and extremely hands-on. There will never be a moment in the film where you stop watching. The impressive film score is daunting and will startle your soul. This drama will make you question what you would do if placed in a similar situation. Does evil reside in all of us?
If you are interested in psychology and how humans act in different circumstances, The Stanford Prison Experiment is for you. Even if human behavior is not your cup of tea, this film will still pull you in. You, just like the participants and the psychologists, will soon forget that an “experiment” is taking place. The “Stanford Prison” will become your startling reality, whether you want it to or not.
Read Dr. Philip Zimbardo’s book here.
Watch the movie trailer here.
Watch the documentary here.
In more exciting news, you can watch the film starting June 2017 on Netflix!