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Looking for a crappy pseudo-zombie horror flick to your 'Bad Movie Day' roster? Boy, have we got a title for you....
Anchor Bay / 82 Minutes / 2010 / Unrated / Street Date: April 10, 2012
What is fascinatingly laughable about The Terror Experiment is that it seems like it really shouldn't be able to fuck things up so badly. Not a lot of viewers give low-rent horror fare much credence anyway, so a Quarantine-esque paranoid thriller with C-level actors and an apparently miniscule budget might not necessarily garner up a bunch of viewer accolade in any major capacity, but this one is hypnotically awful in every way.
And it's not a 'so bad it's good' camp reversal. The Terror Experiment attempts to throw a post-9/11 anthrax scare wrench into an almost 12 Angry Men sort of constrained physical space in order to let the rising terror of its characters inform the very basis of the fear at its center, but forgets to actually act on such intentions. One gets the impression that director George Mendeluk wants things to work here, but they simply do not.
It goes a little something like this. A skyscraper in Lafayette, LA is hit with an explosion. This blast unleashes a deadly chemical to the inhabitants of said structure, a gas that forces those who encounter it to amplify human instinct in an odd way. Basically, once this thing hits your medulla oblongata, you're a living zombie hellbent on violence and death to others. And to complicate things, this gassy awfulness is heavy, so instead of evaporating up into the atmosphere, it travels downward, so as our protagonist, Cale (Jason London) preps for the substance's arrival upstairs, those poor suckers on the ground floor have already gone insane in this kill-crazy fog.
Suspension of disbelief is key in films like The Terror Experiment, and I'm all for a good zombie flick - especially one where geeky tech support dudes like Cale get to be leading men - but from its onset, this limp thriller is laughably unconvincing. Technically, Mendeluk and his crew make somewhat of a gallant effort making The Terror Experiment a heady thriller (their decision to have the attack on the skyscraper tie back to the government provides a solid conspiratorial tack), but the end result misses the mark. You don't root for or against the poor suckers suffering in The Terror Experiment: you wonder how much longer you can stand to not hit the eject button.