What’s Paul Scheuring’s deal with jail cells? After his Fox TV series “Prison Break” ended, his first project out of the gate is a movie set in, well, prison: “The Experiment ,” a remake of the 2001 German film “Das Experiment.”
The idea behind it is the best thing about it, in which men apply for a behavioral study they are told will be safe, last two weeks and pay $1,000 per day. Among the 26 chosen are Travis (Adrien Brody) and Barris (Forest Whitaker). Once inside a makeshift prison facility, the psych researcher (Fisher Stevens) divvies them up between “inmates” and “guards.”
Both sides are given strict rules to obey, but it’s not long before the power goes to a couple of the guards’ heads. Barris digs on it so much that he literally gets an erection. As the days progress, simple acts of mischief build to humiliation (mass urination, anyone?) and ultimately animal instincts as each side is dehumanized, and the stakes are no longer pretend.
Despite usual solid performances from the two Oscar-winning leads, this “Experiment” yields no satisfaction. Neither is it a failure, landing in that middle ground of well-intentioned drama that manages only to hover around decent. Fault must be placed on Scheuring, who serves as director and co-writer, whose film actually looks more made-for-television than big-screen-bound. “Rod Lott