(director/writer: Joseph Sorrentino; cinematographer: Diego Romero; editor: Cristobal Fernandez; music: Toni Neiman; cast: Anson Mount (Ford Strauss), Jaime May Newman (Rose Strauss), Jason Patric (Galvin Morgan), Jen Richards (Laura Stanley), Alan Aboutboul (Townsend), Jared Bankens (Gunther), Wanatah Walmsley (Nurse Irwin), Josh Whites (Dallas Shepherd), Charles Green (Kevin Mercer), Jill Renner (Shelly); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Joseph Sorrentino/Lee Broda/Brian Mercer/Andreas Schilling/Jerry Tankersley/Seth Willenson; Cinedign; 2022)
“An engrossing psychological thriller based on a true story.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An engrossing psychological thriller based on a true story and knowledgeably directed and written by Joseph Sorrentino (“The Sacrament of Life “/”Coyote”), a former CIA operative himself. It’s about the CIA’s mind control LSD experiments started in 1953 and going into the early 1960s when it supposedly ended (or at least the public is led to believe it ended). It used willing and unaware participants (like druggies, prostitutes & the dregs of society) in its drug experiments. It follows the recruited by the CIA’s shadowy agent Galvin Morgan (Jason Patric), the LSD research psychiatrist into mental illness, Ford Strauss (Anson Mount). He’s hired to push scientific and moral boundaries to the limit in running a CIA funded experimental program in a rural Mississippi Mental Hospital. He does so until he can’t anymore, feeling these experiments are causing him to break his Hippocratic oath, that states in it “not to do harm.”
It might not be historically accurate but it’s entertaining and informative, as it shows the dark side of the American government going too far in its dubious experiments to get its handle on using mind control as a military weapon.
The drama is filmed like a documentary. Though slow-moving, it holds the viewer’s interest throughout. The featured CIA agents operate coldly, not caring what outsiders think is right or wrong about their creepy experiments. It’s a film not concerned with plot but wanting to make the viewer aware that such questionable experiments were condoned by the government and that there are probably other controversial secret programs still going on.
REVIEWED ON 10/22/2022 GRADE: A-