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Region 1 DVD Review



Starring: John Hopkins, Georgina French, David Grant and Nick Simons
MTI Video
RRP: $24.95
Certificate: R
Available 04 March 2008

A young woman, Anna, walks the streets of a foreign city. Her mind full of pain. No Memory of who she is, and plagued by nightmarish visions. Then she meets Morgan, a man who also has no memory. Forced to trust each other, the two feel a mysterious connection. A strong powerful feeling that bonds the two together. Unknown to them their every action is being guided by unseen forces from the dark underground shadows of the city. Anna and Morgan are part of a frightening experiment with a terrifying and shocking conclusion...

When I originally reviewed the movie release of Experiment I noted that it was a bit of a shock to the system. A British sci-fi movie that is not only original, but is also actually pretty damn good. While I still stand by my original review for the actual film, I couldn't help but notice that there appears to have been some unessasry dubbing work added to the DVD release. In places this appears to make no sense, but more of that later.

The basic plot is simple enough - a woman and man are separately found wandering around a foreign environment. Both uncertain of who they are or what they are doing there, but they both find instructions about their person that leads them to seek each other out.

But what sets this apart from other movies is that at every turn the director toys with the audience and then stamps all over them. Dan Turner is one twisted guy. How can he make us feel for these characters and then led us down a path were the unexpected is the norm? Ultimately, this is what makes Experiment into a movie that you'll go away talking about. In short, it's what makes this movie a must see film.

The finished film actually looks like one person's vision - instead of the usual mismatch of ideas that can result when the large studios become involved. As a result, the film flows incredibly smoothly. This seems to be one of the largest stumbling blocks of any modern movie - that creative talent is dropped to make way for populist instantly forgettable fare. In the current environment, if Hitchcock were alive today he would have struggled to make a better film.

You really wouldn't think that Experiment was the product of that low a budget. Hiding this fact is not an easy process, and the director of photography deserves some serious recognition here. Moody, low lit shots hide a multitude of sins... but they also look damn sexy. This movie is proof, if proof were needed, that we Brits can still commit works of art to celluloid without spending a small fortune in the process. The photography is beautiful, the writing is fantastic and the acting is first rate. However, the DVD release has quite a few scenes where the colour is off balance with other scenes. Ocassionally this makes the characters skin tones look very unnatural as does the surrounding environment.

I say the acting is first rate, but to be honest not a fantastic amount of acting ability is required for the two main roles of Anna and Morgan. What I mean by that is that they don't have that many lines, it's more about looking and physically acting the part. Again it was down to the director to ensure that they didn't overplay their roles. It's David Grant, as Walker, and Nick Simons, as Joseph, that steal the limelight. Grant portrays a believable villain - not your usual tough and shallow character. When he's backed into a corner he looks scared. Yes, at long last a villain that acts human! And Simons is incredibly moving as the scientist who has been lied to - a rather naive pawn in the establishment's plans.

Setting the movie in Prague was also inspired. This really helps to make the audience feel a part of the confusion. At the start of the movie, like Anna, you are not entirely sure where you are. The street signs and building constructions are familiar but you know that you are not in the United Kingdom. Now, in the original, theatrical version, the characters that Anna met didn't speak to her in English, yet for some reason on the DVD they do. In the original version the fact that everyone was speaking in a foreign language not only helped to give the movie a more intense atmosphere, but It also ensured that there was no poor acting on the part of the smaller characters. Now, for some unfathomable reason almost all of the foreign characters that Anna meets at the start of the movie, speak to her in English - which is odd because they don't know what nationality she is. And, worse still, the dubbing is pretty bad, with awful lip-synch and not overly believable acting.

Then there is the scene where Anna meets the guy on the hotel desk. He speaks to her in English, but the next time he meets her, and she talks to him in English, he acts surprised.

The only other real let down, to my mind, was the gratuitous naked scene. Don't get me wrong, I quite liked the fact that we got to see Georgina French in the buff - she's incredibly beautiful. It's just that it's almost a given that a nude scene has to be thrown in to sell a film these days. And I felt that it served no real purpose other than cheap titillation. The almost obligatory sex scene could have been cut too, although to be honest this was fairly well handled and at least it was quick (like in real life - or is that just me?)

Those looking for clichés should search elsewhere. Even the formulaic confrontation with the main villain in the final act is refreshing. There's no James Bond style fight sequence that kills off our villain, only to have him reappear because he wasn't quite dead. Turner took a huge gamble meddling with the audience expectations of a movie's general plot... and it's one experiment (excuse the pun) that paid off.

Extras are a little thin on the ground and include text based bios and film notes as well as the original trailer and trailers for other releases.

Why this wasn't released as the director originally intended is beyond me. While I loved the original version, the dubbed scenes in the DVD release actually detract greatly from the movie I first saw. Not only that, but on occasion the subtitles only half appeared on screen and no amount of fiddling with the options appeared to work - which could just be a fault with my particular DVD machine - that's what happens when there's no industry standard for producing DVD players that can play all features of every DVD.


Darren Rea

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