© Tobis Film GmbH

The Social Experiment
Germany 2022

Opening 27 Oct 2022

Directed by: Pascal Schröder
Writing credits: Raffaela Kraus, Pascal Schröder
Principal actors: Raffaela Kraus, Claudiu Mark Draghici, Elmo Anton Stratz, Marven Suarez Brinkert, Gustav Strunz

Adrian and his friends who live in Hamburg have been invited to take part in an unusual challenge. A new escape room has opened and the prize for completing it is 100,000 euros and more popularity on social media platforms. What the friends don’t know is that this isn’t a game at all, but rather a science experiment to test the capabilities of a new AI called Kira. The AI has studied each of the players’ social media accounts to determine their personality types and their weaknesses and the test is to determine the accuracy of these results and to manipulate the participants. However, it soon becomes apparent that the test follows few ethical guidelines and that the lives of the participants are at risk. Will the friends escape the experiment and at what cost?

While The Social Experiment benefits from a sleek production design (and the new visual effects process of using LED screens showing virtual backgrounds in real-time), there is a distinct deficiency in the screenplay. What was the overarching purpose of this study? Why did one of researchers go from rather cruelly watching the experiment while cracking jokes and eating popcorn in one scene and then suddenly do a 180 a few minutes later, finding herself deeply emotionally disturbed by the situation? Why are all of the friends so incredibly stupid when the situation is clearly disturbing and life-threatening? This is just the tip of the iceberg of all of the “why” questions that come to mind throughout The Social Experiment. Unfortunately, the script does little to provide any answers and this obliqueness is not done on purpose. In many ways, The Social Experiment feels like a rather obvious imitation of Escape Room (2019), which was itself not a particularly original or well thought through film. While it is interesting to watch The Social Experiment to see how a German production utilizes an LED studio, overall it is a rather juvenile and underbaked feature which will underwhelm anyone looking for a truly suspenseful film. (Rose Finlay)

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