Lionsgate // 2011 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Alice Nelson // December 2nd, 2011
If it weren't for the writing, the directing, the editing and the acting, this would've been a really fine film.
Psychic Experiment uses a cast of B horror movie stars that include Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), Debbie Rochon (Tromeo and Juliet), and Kathy Lamkin (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). With these veterans on board, this movie had the potential to be a B movie classic; instead Psychic Experiment didn't quite know what it wanted to be, so the film had little cohesiveness which made it difficult to follow and even more impossible to enjoy.
A small community is hit with a rash of unexplained disappearances that some suspect a company called "The Facility" is responsible for. As a group of bloggers try to find out the goings on at this mysterious company, local boy Cole Gray (Denton Blane Everett, Rockabillly Baby) returns to his hometown after "The Facility" offers him a job. With the help of an unlikely ally Joseph Webber, played by Bannister, the bloggers get close to learning the truth behind the strange occurrences in town and Cole begins to understand the real reason why he was recruited by "The Facility."
Psychic Experiment has an identity crisis; it is described as a horror/sci-fi film but really it's neither. Writer/director Mel House's script is more like a drama with a pinch of sci-fi thrown in to try and make things interesting. At its best it is the story of a child molester, Joseph Webber, who was experimented on by the mysterious "Facility" and the prodigal son Cole who returns to the place where he was molested as a child. But you have to dig deep to understand exactly what is going on, because of the muddled nature of the script we wind up with a smorgasbord of awfulness that the actors can never overcome.
The best performance is given by Katie Featherston (Paranormal Activity) who plays Cole's love interest, Elspeth. She's no Helen Mirren but compared to the rest of the cast Featherston is brilliant. Unfortunately for the film makers, she's only onscreen for a few short moments at the beginning and end of the movie, which coincidentally are the best parts. There's a sense of suspense at the opening of Psychic Experiment that gave me hope this might be a low budget gem. With Cole heading back home to the place he suffered immense pain and the visible strain in his relationship with Elspeth, there was so much potential to develop those characters. But none of it is ever fleshed out and Elspeth is abruptly dropped for most of the film, until she suddenly returns at the very end. In fact, the way in which her parts sandwich the rest of the movie makes me wonder if her character was an afterthought, which could be the reason her scenes feel so disconnected with the rest of the movie.
There's a storyline featuring inept bloggers trying to uncover a huge story, and another one about the head of "The Facility" who is enacting revenge for the death of her brother, but really none of it makes much sense. In fact, if you only managed to watch the first ten minutes of the movie then slipped into a state of deep sleep and woke up during the last five minutes, you would have seen all you need to, because those few moments are the most coherent of the entire film. Psychic Experiment is a low budget film that looks every bit like a low budget film.
Extras include the usual making of featurette, some commentary by the director and part of the cast, as well as deleted scenes and a few scenes with optional commentary. It was filmed in 1.78:1 widescreen with the audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film appears to have been shot using video tape, giving it the look and feel of a daytime soap opera.
Let's face it, Psychic Experiment was never going to be a great movie, but it had all the elements to be a fun and cheesy guilty pleasure. Instead it took itself way too seriously and sucked out any amount of enjoyment that one might've gotten from it. The result is an experience that sits upon the ash heap of mediocrity with thousands of other forgettable films.
GUILTY! (Judge pounding gavel heavily upon the bench)
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site