Summary: Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Based on true events.
I came across this movie seeing the trailer on Facebook and I was like “oh yeah, this looks great. It has Ezra Miller?!? Oh I love him. Tye Sheridan? Oh yeah. Michael Ang-whose name I never get right lol. I’m all over this movie.” I’m about to see this movie in theaters and then I find out it’s already out. So, the next day I picked it up from the library.
Cast and Characters. Now, as I always do, I will mention the standouts but I think overall, everyone in this movie does a good job in their roles. I think the students are the ones who really steal this movie. The “adult” roles are fine but honestly outside of them being there, they’re rather forgettable.
Ezra Miller (Daniel Culp/ 8612). First off, I adore Ezra Miller and everything I have seen him in, I think he excels so this role is no different. Culp is the first student we see and he says he would like to be a prisoner in the experiment as it “seemed like less work” and when he actually is randomly selected to be a prisoner, he takes the role on as a joke. He is the only student we see be mock arrested and put through the process before actually going to jail and immediately the viewer connects with him. He takes it lightly in the beginning, laughing, cracking jokes with the other prisoners, knowing in their contract they could rebel and the guards couldn’t physically harm them. When things start getting a bit to…serious he is the first one to speak out. Miller does these little ticks that show how the character is reacting to certain things. When he is first arrested, he’s laughing but when they blindfold him, there’s a sharp intake of breath because that’s new, then later when he’s told to strip naked, he has to wait because the guards forgot to bring something and though he’s still blindfolded, it’s plain to see he’s already starting to get nervous. When the next shift of guards make them repeat their prisoner numbers over and over, one of the prisoners is told to do a series of exercises, he does these little twitches which shows he wants to say something so badly. He does, usually every time, and some of the guards purposely seek him out because of it. There are a lot of great scenes with this character that I need to stop talking about him before it gets longer.
Tye Sheridan (Peter Mitchell/819). He seems like he was one of the younger students but wary from the beginning as we see him when he goes through the process (the name is totally escaping me). He already is questioning the guards taking their roles “too seriously” and for a while, his character is more or less, Culp’s friend and the intended partner in crime, but once they share a “solitary” sentence together, they’re put into separate rooms and his new cellmates do their own form of rebellion. Later, his character becomes a bit more emotional and Sheridan does such a great job in showing the nervousness of this young man, his want to be rebellious, him actually being rebellious and then his ultimate freak out. The emotions with this character is amazing where there is a scene, where I felt so bad for him I wanted to cry.
Michael Angarano (Christopher Archer). He plays one of the guards, at first he wants to be a prisoner because he recognizes that no one likes guards but is the last option next to Culp for a role and is ultimately drawn as the guard. Archer practices his role a few times in the mirror and eventually settles on a persona, it’s just a role to him, and he falls into it very well. Angarano is playing Archer playing this guard whose persona is “John Wayne” and he does it so well that he’s intimidating and degrading with his words alone. Towards the end, his character gets a bit more crass but it’s obvious this guy is just enjoying his role and doesn’t even think what he’s doing is that bad. His scene with Ezra Miller where he keeps making him remake his bed pushes the film into dangerous territory.
There are many others such as Johnny Simmons, Brett Davern, Chris Sheffield and Nicholas Braun who are also notable in their roles as well. These students go through so much in such a short amount of time and even Braun who plays a guard, becomes a very scary presence who is a step forward to the extreme than Angarano’s character is. He definitely purposely had it out for Miller’s character.