The Experiment in streaming. Volunteers arrive for a psychological study led by Dr. Archaleta (Stevens) in which participants will be divided into groups acting as prison guards and inmates. Among them is Travis (Brody), a proud anti-war protestor, and Michael Barris (Whitaker), a 42-year-old man who still lives with his domineering mother. After interviews measuring responses to various scenes of violence are conducted, a chosen 26 are driven to an isolated building set up as a prison and split into 6 guards and 20 prisoners. Travis is assigned to be a prisoner, Barris as a guard. Basic rules are outlined: prisoners must eat, and fully consume, 3 meals a day; there will be 30 minutes of rec daily; prisoners must remain within designated areas. The guards in turn must ensure prisoners obey the rules, and deal with transgressions commensurately within 30-minutes. Archaleta stresses that the experiment will end immediately at the first sign of violence or quitting. If they manage to follow the rules for two weeks, each man will be paid $14,000. Travis shares his cell with Benjy, a graphic novelist, and Nix, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. Barris, concerned that some of the guards, particularly Chase, may be capable of violence, tries to dissuade them from aggressive behavior. Instead, the guards grow more forceful in order to make prisoners follow the rules. Barris becomes more and more sadistic. Despite increasing abuse from the guards, Travis remains defiant. Realizing Travis is influencing prisoner dissent, Barris decides to humiliate him, as physical retribution is forbidden. Under Barris' lead Travis is abducted, head shaved, and urinated upon. The red light does not come on, and Barris takes this as a sign that his actions were "commensurate." He reassures the guards they're behaving appropriately. When fellow guard Bosch dissents, Barris pressures him by reminding that quitting early will forfeit payment. Travis discovers that Benjy, who is taken ill, had concealed his diabetes, thinking he could manage the condition himself. When Travis pleads for Bosche to intervene, Bosche tries to help by locating Benjy's insulin, but is caught by other guards. Barris, to Travis' surprise, gives Benjy his insulin, but later takes revenge by massing all other guards to beat Bosche severely, who is then left among the prison population. Barris also orders Travis to clean the prison toilets as punishment for his defiant attitude and his attempt to help Benjy. Travis taunts Barris, saying he should use his $14,000 for psychological treatment. The guards respond by shoving Travis' head into the toilet, nearly drowning him.
Jeanne Hopson, Rachel O'Meara, Rod Maiorano, Damien Leake, Jason Lew, Fisher Stevens, Ethan Cohn, Adrien Brody, David Banner, Cam Gigandet, Travis Fimmel, Maggie Grace, Forest Whitaker, Clifton Collins Jr., Jack Mishler
Directors: Paul Scheuring
Duration: 96 min
Year of release: 2010
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