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Altered Minds
Score: 72%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: eOne
Region: 1
Media: DVD/1
Running Time: 93 Mins.
Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Drama
Audio: English 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English SDH

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Audio Commentary Tracks with Writer/Director Michael Z. Wechsler and Composer Edmund Choi
  • Director's Video Logs:
    • Michael Wechsler Talks About Video Logs
    • Rehearsals
    • Screenings

Altered Minds opens during a family gathering where patriarch Dr. Nathan Shellner's (Judd Hirsch, Forever) birthday is being celebrated. Shellner is dying of lung cancer, so the occasion is a special one, as it could be his last. Things take a turn for the worse when adopted son Tommy (Ryan O'Nan) begins accusing their father of adopting him, his sister Julie (Jaime Ray Newman), and their other adopted brother Harry (C.S. Lee, Chuck, Dexter) for the sole purpose of experimenting on them. A wild accusation to be sure, but since Dr. Shellner is renowned for his work with soldiers who are suffering from PTSD, could Tommy's accusations have a grain of truth to them? As the evening progresses, tempers flare between the adopted children and the Shellner's natural son, Leonard (Joseph Lyle Taylor), while wife/mother Lillian (Caroline Lagerfelt, Gossip Girl) tries to keep the peace.

As Tommy reveals his repressed memories to the group, Julie and Harry chime in with some hidden nightmares/memories of their own, recently triggered by this family fight, while Leonard grows more enraged at his sickly father being attacked, but throws a few verbal punches of his own. As Nathan finally opens up to his family about the nature of his scientific work, the family discovers that the truth of what really happened all those years ago may be more horrible and shocking than even Tommy surmised.

Altered Minds is a psychological thriller that immediately interested me because of Judd Hirsch and C.S. Lee, both of whom I really enjoy for their respective talents. Although the cast is relatively small, everyone is excellent in their parts, I just didn't find myself on the edge of my seat. While there were some truly horrifying aspects in the revelations of the Shellner family's past, I never felt completely sucked in by it.

The wintry outdoor scenery used in the film is beautiful (icicles play a major role in the film), and is quite a feat especially since the film was made during a completely snowless winter using a blend of CG, silicone pieces, and fake snow, etc. I learned this from the Director's Video Logs, one of the special features that also includes Deleted Scenes, two separate Audio Commentary Tracks (one basic and one specific to audio) and Video Logs that also cover the rehearsals and private screenings of the film. Considering another strong focus of the film is birds, there's a funny anecdotal occurrence that Writer/Director Michael Wechsler experiences on the way to a screening and he catches it all on phone video. It's amusing.

Overall, Altered Minds is not great and it's not bad. As far as psychological thrillers go, it's decent. The acting is quite good and, sadly, two complete characters were cut from the film, but you can see their scenes in the Deleted Scenes extras and deleting their roles undoubtedly gave the film more punch. I don't know if it is one to buy, as I probably wouldn't watch it a second time, but I did especially enjoy Judd Hirsch in his role.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins
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