The Blackout Experiments doesn’t pay off

Doc about people who pay for torture sessions tailored to their specific fears is frighteningly ineffective


The Blackout Experiments (Rich Fox). 81 minutes. Opens Friday (July 22). See listings. Rating: NN


What are your limits? Wanna find out?

The subjects of this documentary are Angelenos and New Yorkers who repeatedly patronize a horror-house experience called Blackout, where they submit to torture sessions tailored to their specific fears. 

Rich Fox was granted access to film these midnight sessions, which seem inspired by the Guantánamo Bay interrogation manual: stress positions, humiliation, forced nudity, limited physical assault. 

It doesn’t look like any fun at all, and Fox lets the “victims” tell their stories in video testimonials, explaining why they willingly go back for more.  

In those moments, The Blackout Experiments picks at a really intriguing idea: paying for terror therapy is the ultimate First World problem, isn’t it? 

But Fox wants to package it as sado-porn horror, with flash-cuts to screaming faces set to the sort of droning, screeching score made popular by the Saw movies. It’s the least interesting choice.

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