Directed by: Kate Reed Davies
Written by: Jon Huertas, Jennifer Blanc, Travis Romero
Director of Photography: Steve Romano
Editing: Jon Artigo, Vance Crofoot
Jon Huertas, Jade Tailor, Nichol Fynn, Jennifer Blanc, Matthew Ziff, Mark Burnham, Emrhys Cooper
Altered Perception is an intriguing if not altogether successful psychological thriller about the dangers of drug trials. The film opens with a quick montage of three different couples reaching a breaking point in their relationships; each responds with a threat of violence. Then we’re given a lengthy warning, a quote from a Forbes magazine article: “Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analyzed using techniques which are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments.” That’s quite a load to kick-start a movie. Altered Perception doesn’t live up to this opening advisory, though it makes a somewhat compelling argument against medical trials; no one’s going to want to sign up for one after seeing this film.
Much stronger is the essential six-person cast of lab rats who have agreed to take this new drug (it’s administered with an injection into the eye, a nice ghoulish touch that will make many squirm). The actors here are solid, and a few are standouts. Couple number one is Andrew and Lorie (Huertas and Blanc), who have been married but battling over her past; she’s a former prostitute trying to put it all behind her, while her husband belittles her over it. Blanc is particularly strong as a woman ready to move on…but unable to do so because of her husband’s jealousy (when she reaches her breaking point, it’s real). Couple number two is Beth and Emily; Emily’s brother has been accused of raping her girlfriend Beth (an excellent Fynn), and the struggle comes from who Emily believes more. Couple three is Steven and Kristina, the beautiful couple who appear to have it all. But she’s suspicious, and he’s always working, a recipe for disaster. Each actor does a good job in their roles, and all are given moments to shine. The film works best when we see each seemingly happy couple unravel, with grave consequences.
There’s a lot of talking (and loud arguing) in Altered Perception, and many horror fans will be clamoring for something more to happen. Are the final calamitous confrontations worth what comes before them? No. The movie seems to think that what it’s saying is more important than it actually is; we’re hit with multiple warnings (from that article in Forbes magazine) at the end, and by that point you may be rolling your eyes. But Altered Perception includes some intriguing ideas and some good performances. But if it’s truth you’re looking for, you won’t find it here. A few of the characters seem to be losing their sanity, and so may you after being exposed to the constant stream of screaming and paranoia.
From the back row,