The Sleep Experiment

11/11/2022 06:30

Film: The Sleep Experiment

Year: 2022

Director: John Farrelly

Writer: John Farrelly

Starring: Barry John Kinsella, Gwynne McElveen and Tom Kerrisk



This is a movie that I got the chance to see thanks to Justin Cook when he sent over the screener. The title caught my interest as I believe there is an urban legend about an experiment that was called something similar from Russia. Sleep is an intriguing idea so I was pulled to check this out. I didn’t read too much since my interest was piqued.

Synopsis: two detectives begin an investigation into a disastrous secret military experiment where five prisoners were kept awake for thirty days in a sealed gas chamber.

To just a expand a bit more on this synopsis, we see vehicles driving out into the middle of nowhere. It is an isolated stretch. Masks are on the people that are being escorted. They arrive at a compound of sorts. We also see guards that are in hazmat suits. The people that are in masks are prisoners. They’re led into the chamber and informed of the rules.

This experiment is to see the effects of this gas that is being pumped in. It will keep them awake. They need to stay up for 30 consecutive days. If they do, they’ll be freed. They’re not allowed to attack the others. They will also be provided with food to get through. This is also happening in 1961. The movie from there is broken into five chapters.

While they are in here, we get to know the different people and their personalities. Of the ones being held, there is Sean (Brian Moore) who comes off as aggressive. There is Luke (Will Murphy) who likes to push buttons. He also seems the most psychotic of the group. There is also Patrick (Sam McGovern), Edward (Rob James Capel) and one other person with them.

This is synced up with the present of the movie. There are two detectives, one of them being Robert (Barry John Kinsella). They are interrogating a doctor, Christopher (Tom Kerrisk). Their goal is to find out more about this experiment and what happened. They are looking to figure out who should be arrested since it seems that it ended poorly. Christopher was the one that was in charge. He isn’t overly forthcoming with information. The deeper they dig; the more depraved things seem to be. What sparked this are recordings of the experiment. There also seems to be a hidden tape that is missing that could give away the truth of what happened during this sleep experiment.

That is where I’m going to leave my recap and introduction to some of the characters. Where I want to start is with things that I led off with. This experiment is interesting to me. I do not like to sleep and only do it because I must. This starts saying that it is based on true events. It has me intrigued to investigate what is real behind this. I just haven’t had the time yet. I will admit though that seeing that blurb in the front does make me chuckle. Nothing against this movie, just in general though as that sometimes feels like a cash grab.

Then with that out of the way, I love the idea of this experiment. Sleep is such an odd thing. We must do it to function properly. Times where my anxiety is high, I’ve had insomnia. It made me panic. What is wild though is that has happened for one night or like when I’m sick. Growing up I’ve stayed up all night and eventually I’ll crash. I’ve never done it for days which is what happens here. This gas they said was made for military applications. I think it is wild that it will keep them up for as long as it will. It does cause them to hallucinate eventually. That is more from sleep depravity than what is being pumped in. What is also interesting though is that they’re using criminals. It sounds like almost all have killed someone. A couple of the participants did theirs in a fit of rage so that is more for circumstance. Luke is a legitimate psychopath though who looks to get under the others sick on purpose. This is a recipe for disaster. It also makes sense in the end. There are things being done that the participants aren’t aware of to track their reactions.

Now everything I’ve laid out there is intriguing to me. My problem with this movie is that we get away from it. The detectives that are interviewing Christopher is the story we are following with the experiment being why. I just don’t find this as captivating. I like it as a set up for what we are getting. I want to see more of the experiment playing out though. The issue I see is that it could get boring as it takes time for things to happen. I will say that I like Kerrisk’s performance as this doctor. He has an arrogance about him and the more we learn, the more of a monster he is. This experiment has a correlation to this story so it explains why the detectives care outside of making sure someone gets punished. It just didn’t hold my interest as much and I also guessed the reveal.

I do have to give credit to Overly Honest Reviews for this bit here. I saw their thoughts about how this is pushing about how criminals are looked down upon for committing crimes when those higher ups are doing much worse. Looking back, I did realize it during my watch or at least thought of it but completely forgot about that thread until seeing that. They are correct as that is a good point and wanted to credit them here.

There isn’t much more to go into for the story so I’ll go over to the acting. I’ve already said that I liked Kerrisk’s performance. Kinsella was solid as well. I liked our group that are in the experiment as well. They all have distinct personalities so even though I don’t remember all their names, I know a bit about each of them. McGovern, Moore, Murphy, Capel and the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.

The last thing that I will go into would be with the filmmaking. I thought that cinematography was good. There is a drab feel to it and that comes from the setting. It gives it a depressing feel which fits. I know that we got the year of 1961, which is when the experiment takes place if memory serves. Since it is contained down there and isolated, they don’t need to convey much more than that. Prisoner’s uniforms tend to stay the same over the years and how they look fit. I thought all this was fine even for the present of the movie. Other than that, we get limited effects. What we get looked good though as this goes bloody at the climax. The soundtrack also fit for what was needed without necessarily standing out.

In conclusion, this movie has an interesting set up. I like the idea of this experiment and it is terrifying that at least part of this is based in facts. The acting is solid across the board. No one necessarily stood out aside from Kerrisk and Murphy, but no one was bad. This is well-made as I had no glaring issues there. The story felt a bit predictable to me. I still enjoyed my time with it even though it lost steam.


My Rating: 6 out of 10