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Movies: Das Experiment

About once a year I urge all my cinemaphilic friends to go see a movie on my word alone. I just say "Go see such and such without reading anything about it -- the less you know before you walk into the theater, the more you'll like it. Assuming you like it at all. Which I don't guarantee." Two years ago the Blind Faith Movie was Run Lola Run. Last year it was Memento. This year the movie to see "cold" is, without a doubt, Das Experiment.

And because I consider every member of my faithful yeti-readership to be a friend (albeit a friend in a no-I-don't-want-to-'cyber' kind of way), I'm not going to tell you a goddamned thing about the plot of this movie. (I'm not even going to link to the movie's "Rotten Tomatoes" or "Metacritic" page, because I don't want you skulking off and reading about it). I will instead limit my reflections on Das Experiment to these five items:

  • This is easily my favorite movie so far this year, beating out The Good Girl by a country mile. So you'll be pleased to know that my "Wah-wah, there are no Mulholland Drives this year" bleat endth here. Furthermore, I don't foresee any movie on the horizon knocking this out of my "#1 for 2002" spot, save only, perhaps, The Two Towers.

  • I don't want to classify Das Experiment as either a "psychological thriller" or a "horror movie," but I will say that the overall atmosphere of the film falls somewhere in between Memento and The Blair Witch Project.

  • During this movie my heart was pounding. And by "my heart was pounding" I'm not talking about that mamby-pamby "The Tuxedo is heart-pounding excitement!" Gene Shalit crap -- I'm telling you that I could literally feel my own pulse throughout the latter half of the film.

  • At various points during the film, the audience in my theater audibly gasped with surprise and horror. Not just the woman with hypertension sitting behind me, the entire, collective audience.

  • Moritz Bleibtreu -- the hottie boyfriend from Run Lola Run -- is stark naked on several occasions. (If you haven't seen Lola, imagine a burlier Keanu Reeves with approximately the same command of the English language.) I dunno if "naked Bleibtreu" motivates you -- I'm more of a Franka Potente man, myself -- but I believe the world would be a better place if all movie reviews mentioned the good-lookin' naked people. That said, I should point out that, despite wanton male nudity, this movie is not even remotely erotic. If erotic was Ackron, Ohio, Das Experiment would be Neptune. In fact, this may well be the worse date movie in recent history.
Lots of people won't like Das Experiment. You may be one of them. It's actually kind of agonizing to sit through. And critics are pretty divided: the Rotten Tomatoes page (which, I'll remind you, you're not to read) gives it a composite score of 64%, which puts it just one percentage point above Blue Crush. The Village Voice liked it and The New York Times didn't -- that may tell you something right there.

Is this a recommendation? Sort of. I am telling you to go see it, make no mistake about that. I'm also saying that you might hate me for having done so. But (and if this review has any point, this is probably it) no matter what your final opinion, you will get more out of Das Experiment if you don't know any more than the above when you purchase your ticket. You'll just have to take my word for it. Consider it a little experiment in trust ... one that might go horribly wrong. Posted on October 02, 2002 to Movies


Fiest off: Comments (after this one) may contain spoilers, so stop reading if you're gonna see it.

Here are the reviews' ratings (out of 10) from metacritic.com:

  • San Francisco Chronicle / Jonathan Curiel: 8
  • New Times (L.A.) / Bill Gallo: 8
  • New York Post / Megan Turner: 8
  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer / Sean Axmaker: 7
  • Los Angeles Times / Kevin Thomas: 7
  • Village Voice / Ed Halter: 7
  • Variety / Derek Elley: 7
  • Boston Globe / Janice Page: 6
  • TV Guide / Maitland McDonagh: 6
  • New York Times / Elvis Mitchell: 6
  • New York Daily News / Elizabeth Weitzman: 5
  • Entertainment Weekly / Owen Gleiberman: 4
  • LA Weekly / Hazel-Dawn Dumpert: 3

Posted by: Matthew on October 2, 2002 10:30 AM

But... but... but Blue Crush ROCKED!

I almost went to see Das Experiment, but you know, it was a date, and that's JUST. NOT. A. DATE. MOVIE.

Posted by: Choire on October 2, 2002 10:34 AM

"If erotic was Ackron, Ohio"

That's the biggest if I've ever seen.

Posted by: Dan on October 3, 2002 12:05 PM

at last, something worth seeing since mulholland drive. i've been worried that i would have to satisfy myself with lowbrow substitutes such as feardotcomdotcom or the ring. thanks

if enough critics hate a movie i usually go see it. i also like movies other people get up and walk out on, like berlin alexanderplatz, the tin drum, and solaris.

Posted by: the pig on October 3, 2002 2:08 PM

This is a film that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth for days. The people/critics that can not find themselves at the very least moved by Das Experiment, I fear do not have a beating pulse (reference to above). Oh, and if the Village Voice likes a movie and NY Times doesn't, that is a sure bet must see movie anyday!!

Posted by: andre on November 17, 2002 7:30 AM