At last, Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s nerve-prickling drama “The Stanford Prison Experiment” has been acquired for US release by IFC Films, which has slated a 2015 release for this winner of Sundance’s best screenplay and Alfred P. Sloan prizes.
This exasperating film tells the real-life story of Dr. Zimbardo’s 1971 simulated prison study involving 18 male undergrads randomly assigned the role of prisoner or guard who are stripped of their humanity (among other things) by each other—and by the psychologist’s sadistic, power-playing mind games.
Name a hot young indie rising star and he’s probably in this terrific cast, including Ezra Miller, Keir Gilchrist, Jack Kilmer, Michael Angarano, James Wolk, Tye Sheridan and fresh-faced Sundance breakout Logan Miller. Billy Crudup astutely leads the ensemble as Philip Zimbardo, whose ill-conceived faux prison breaks them down and throws them into degrading, even uncomfortably erotic scenarios. Olivia Thirlby co-stars as Zimbardo’s skeptical fiancee.
The film is a grueling experience but it works thanks to licks of black humor and Ezra Miller’s ferocious screen presence. Written by Tim Talbott and directed by third-time filmmaker Alvarez (“C.O.G.,” “Easier with Practice”), “The Stanford Prison Experiment” was produced by Abandon Features, Sandbar Pictures’ Lizzie Friedman and Greg Little, Coup d’État Films’ Brent Emery, Lauren Bratman, and executive producer Brian Geraghty. Abandon Features, Sandbar Pictures and Vineyard Point Productions financed.