It’s not surprising that The Sleep Experiment was inspired by true events, because it’s horrifying to consider the kinds of terrible experiments that administrations and academics were able to get away with in an era when there was so much less openness and blame.The film’s aesthetic does a poor job of supporting the promising premise. It’s all incredibly fake and synthetic, when we should be getting a steadily more unsettling vibe. There’s a stagey presence to it, and it’s too perfectly put together to match the cruel, twisted narrative being told.
Luke (Will Murphy), Patrick (Sam McGovern; Zig and Zag; The Queen v Patrick O’Donnell); Edward (Rob James Capel; Pooka); Sean (Brian Moore; Election 18; Guy At The Bar); and Eric (Brian Moore; Guy At The Bar) are all persons who have been incarcerated for reasons related to national security (Steven Jess, Winifred Meeks, Mug Face).
The Sleep Experiment, directed by John Farrelly, heavily references the Russian Sleep Experiment, right down to the utilization of chemically processed gases that kept the subjects awake for 30 days straight. As sad as it is, The Sleep Experiment ends up inheriting about as much cinematic appeal as its online forum progenitor.
Even if you aren’t a psychologist, you can probably guess what happens to your mind when you don’t get enough sleep, giving the film plenty of room to explore complex, violent, and hilarious themes. It does capitalize on that to an extent, but it is also being utilized to establish a parallel storyline about the people who are the focus of the experiment.
The Sleep Experiment, despite its exciting beginning, is a film that builds slowly, spending a lot of time getting to know the guys and their thoughts so that we can see the shifts in their characters over the course of the experiment. And as anybody who has ever been sleep deprived will attest, such alterations may be very dramatic.
Even if the film’s payoff didn’t quite hit the mark for me, it was an ok film if you enjoy government experiment type films then this will be right up your alley.
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