May 7, 2018 Altered Perception (Movie Review)
There always seems to be a new cure-all drug hitting the market: whatever the issue is, just pop a pill or get this injection and all problems are solved! This drug right here will save lives and much improve quality of life! But how did these miracle drugs get to the market anyway? Surely, they had to be tested in a controlled environment before being sold to the masses; a new drug would never hit the market without successful drug trials performed on willing, fully-informed people, right? Tackling this very topic, Synkronized Films offers up Altered Perception, a film diving head first into what could go wrong with these drug trials and why not everything on the market is as safe as advertised. Altered Perception opens in select theaters as well as on VOD on Friday, May 4, 2018.
Considered a Sci-Fi Thriller, the film opens with a panel, lead by Walter (Mark Burnham: Hidden in the Woods 2014, Lowlife 2017), who are trying to get to the bottom of what happened during a government drug trial of D.T.P. D.T.P is an experimental drug that is supposed to correct false perceptions people have developed during times of trauma and stress. This particular trial focused on three couples: each pair are dealing with their own set of issues, but each hope that this drug will be a miracle and do what other more conventional approaches could not to save their relationships. The panel exists because, though each couple were filmed and monitored in their homes, researchers ignored warning signs and someone has lost their life.
Couple number one, Andrew (Jon Huertas: Castle series, This is Us series) and Lorie (Jennifer Blanc-Biehn: Dark Angel series, The Night Visitor 2013), are an odd pair: Andrew is a lawyer and Lorie is a former prostitute. It is clear that they love each other, but both have extreme hang-ups that will not allow them to live in peace together. Andrew knows about Lorie’s past and accepts it, but it bothers him in ways that he cannot explain. Lorie has also accepted her past but feels as though Andrew has not; she picks apart everything he says and always goes back to him not accepting her or her past. They are constantly fighting about something that neither can change, and the fights begin to become violent and more damaging. They both hope that D.T.P. will help them overcome their issues before it is too late.
Couple number two, Kristina (Jade Tailor: Aquarius series, The Magicians series) and Steven (Emrhys Cooper: Mamma Mia! 2008, Vanity series), have extreme trust issues. Steven works in the film industry so he is not home all the time, while Kristina is a housewife who is obsessed with the idea that her husband is cheating on her; everything he says and does makes her question him and his motives. Steven is losing both sleep and jobs because of Kristina’s insecurities, yet he has never done anything to warrant her feeling this way; but she refuses to let go of the idea and, in a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, Steven is starting to want to leave her. Their hope is that the medicine will allow them to work through Kristina’s trust issues so that neither must ever live without the other.
The third couple is Emily (Hallie Jordan: Mindless 2014, The Girl 2016) and Beth (Nichola Fynn: Hot in Cleveland series, Transparent 2015), who love each other and want to get married. Their problems? Emily is worried that Beth is into men and will leave her for one, and reportedly believes this because Beth has accused Emily’s brother, Justin (Matthew Ziff: Kickboxer: Vengeance 2016, Taken Heart 2017) of raping her. In turn, Justin denies this accusation and claims they just had consensual sex. For her part, Emily cannot believe the worst of her brother, and wants Beth to admit that she is lying about it being rape. Beth is hurt that her girlfriend refuses to believe her about something so painful, and the two are firmly rooted into their positions with Justin squarely in the middle. D.T.P. is their last hope to overcome their issues or they will be finished.
Ultimately, does D.T.P. even work? Will this new trial drug be the answer to anyone’s prayers? What could have gone so wrong that someone does not make it through the trial alive? Is it D.T.P.’s fault or is it the fault of the researchers who were supposed to be monitoring the couples?
Each couple on their own are fascinating, and all of them have trust issues of some kind formed by their own irrational thinking. While each have very complex and serious issues, each are so unique that it pulls the viewer in deep and leaves them on the edge of their seat. While each couple is so intriguing and so perfectly matched, everyone is damaged in some way and for some specific reason. The couples all mention that they have tried different approaches to solving their problems, yet what is interesting is how anyone would think these conflicts could ever be fully resolved by any type of drug; people think and feel the way they do because of past experiences and their own personalities. D.T.P. is a drug that is meant to break through all that and give new insight, and the film subtly raises questions as to why any drug would be the answer for anyone in these situations.
Drug trials exist so that when a new drug hits the market any and all possible issues have been covered and resolved, and if they are not resolved, it is the duty of the pharmaceutical companies to fully inform the patient of the potential risks associated with taking said drug. At that point it is up to the patient and their doctor to decide whether those risks are worth the potential positives associated with the drug, while researchers performing the drug trials are supposed to ensure that the parameters are set in such a way that limits negative outcomes.
Throughout the film, it is clear this did not happen with the D.T.P. trials. Each person was given a different dosage of the drug and a placebo was also given to one person, while none of them knew who was given what or what the potential side effects might be. This is not abnormal, as the participants were only told what the drug should do. As with all trials, it was up to the researchers to put a stop to the trial if anything seemed to be going badly. However, these researchers were clearly more invested in getting the drug to market than the safety of the actual individuals testing the drug. At one point one of them even coldly spoke about them as animals showing clear apathy to the lives of their test subjects. If Big Brother does not care in a supposed controlled environment, then what will happen if this drug goes to the masses?
Oversight is key when unleashing any type of drug to the masses: clinical researchers should be paying attention to their work and exhibiting responsibility to the individuals who are ingesting a drug. If the powers that be do not care, then how safe is anyone? Altered Perception is a political film underlying the main reasons the public should be wary of some new drugs and drug trials. True, not all drugs approved on the market are bad, but what had to happen to get them to that point?
Overall, Altered Perception is captivating and it also makes the viewer rethink about the stockpile of drugs in their own medicine cabinets. People versus money. The government and drug companies want to push drugs to make a dollar, but at what cost? For an exceptional script, acting, and deeply thought-provoking commentary, CrypticRock gives Altered Perception 4.5 of 5 stars.