The Sunderland Experiment


Sean Blau and Adam Petke co-directed what is sure to be a cult classic, ”The Sunderland Experiment”. While I absolutely love independent horror movies, I didn’t expect a lot from first-timer Blatke boys. But, the first thing I did when the end credits rolled was call three horror-appreciating friends to spread the word.

Post-alien invasion, “the fallen” and “the blessed” live together. While David has his own reasons for being concerned about the falling process, the people around him begin to experience their own problems with The Angel and the system it set up.

The movie is not easily categorized into the usual horror genres. There are aliens, but I would be extremely hesitant to call it an “Alien movie.” Blau did an excellent job writing the script. He strung the audience along quite a while before revealing the full scope of things. While most horror movies have horror and gore for the sake of a poorly put together story, Blau has a fully fleshed-out story that creates a much more well-rounded horror film.

It was subtle in all the right ways, while still being still aware of how silly other things were. That was one of the many things I enjoyed so much about this movie. Instead of a horror film being awful and just being awful, this was delightfully tacky, but it was conscious of its own absurdness. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a slapstick, cliche horror movie. This is the real thing.
What I liked most about this movie was the fact that it didn’t fall into the trap of needing to feel like the “typical” horror movie. It didn’t relegate itself to senseless nudity and sexed-up co-eds. Nor did it feel the need to have innards falling out, and buckets of blood. While there is blood, this isn’t a gory movie. It’s tastefully and meaningfully done. Also, everything looks great for such a small budget film.

The filmmakers did an excellent job of finding areas and sets that made the film seem more real. Instead of going the usual route of throwing some dirt and broken glass around the outside of an otherwise normal looking house, they found what looked like abandoned buildings, dilapidated shacks, and broken down wooden structures. In fact, this is probably one of Ian Arthur’s, the cinematographer, best works. It was absolutely beautiful at times.

If you are having second thoughts about this movie, I highly recommend it. The make up looks great. Were the CGI monsters a bit goofy? Sure, but it was brilliant considering this isn’t a Spielberg feature film. Did it feel a bit like a secret Harmony Korine horror film? Yes, but if you’re into that, then this is the movie for you. Is the acting the best ever? No, but Dylan O’Brien and Katie Reed held the movie together quite well. And ten points for Gryffindor for Dennice Cisneros’ fantastic voice work. Good job, Team Blatke. Can’t wait for the next film.