Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Terror Experiment and Missing That Edge: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a Blu-Ray screener of this film was provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Director: George Mendeluk.

Writer: D. Todd Deeken.

The Terror Experiment from Anchor Bay Entertainment is not terrifying at all. This is a horror film without a sharp edge. The film feels dull and the characters in The Terror Experiment seem dull as well. With a little cursory digging, the reason for this lackluster showing becomes apparent. Director George Mendeluk's background is in television and his made for television style of directing does not transition well to a straight-to-DVD release. The music is generic, the story is generic and even buildings are not given names. Instead, they get an anonymous title like "Federal Building." All of these elements and many more make The Terror Experiment a candidate for Worst Film of 2012 on 28DLA.

This film does not really deserve fleshing out as none of the ideas in the film are taken the distance. Suffice it to say that several underdeveloped characters become trapped in a building with flesheaters. A domestic terrorist has created a horde of undead by releasing a toxin into an unnamed building. Many are infected. Those surviving remain on the top floors while the rescue personnel below do their best to appear incompetent. Almost no one shines in this drab film.

Those not shining include a host of C list actors. From C. Thomas Howell to Judd Nelson, this film feels like a '90s film reunion. Admittedly, this reviewer enjoyed Howell's phenomenal performance in Red Dawn, but in this film he just goes through the motions. The poor writing does not really set a strong stage from which to work upon, as well. This is Todd Deeken's first film as a scriptwriter and something in the writing is missing. There is no tension. As well, the characters do not have any depth. Personally, this reviewer was rooting for the zombies to take them all out. That wish was partially fulfilled. This critic also wished for a more exciting soundtrack. That was not to be. The fake gunfire and overuse of CGI (from bodies to helicopters) just created an unbelievable scenario from which eye-rolling was order of the day. The film could not even afford blanks?

The best thing about this film were the previews of other films from the introduction. The Wicker Tree was more entertaining in its two minute trailer than this film was in its measly seventy-eight minutes. Not everything was bad, however. Jason London's acting was not terrible. Is that a compliment? Yet, this film watcher did laugh when his lip started to quiver after hearing of his daughter's death. This was not the reaction the film was likely going for. Outside of London's performance, The Terror Experiment has nothing going for it.

Expect to see this film on the SyFy Network late at night, real late. This film is not even b-movieish and instead this is C level filmmaking or possibly even D level. There is nothing compelling about this film. It is cheaply produced and the film feels exploitative overall. Skip this film when it releases on DVD and Blu-Ray April 10th, or purchase this film for a young male teenager. But even he might roll his eyes and sigh at the lack of horrifying scenes. Run from this film like you would run from the undead!

Overall: 4 out of 10 (this is a really poor showing, trying to cash in on the zombie film and television craze, why is Dunbar in this film? terrible).

*the only special features on the release include an audio commentary from the director.

**even an entire building exploding does not make the ground shake as seen in the final scene.

The film's story and release details can be found at Anchor Bay Entertainment:

The Terror Experiment at Anchor Bay Ent.

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