The Experience


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Experience
"Activities like this are often described as character building, but character is precisely what is lacking here."

We first meet Scarlet (Allison Kove) when she has run away and is being persuaded to return to the group. The hills where they have been hiking are dry and sparsely covered; her chances of survival are not good alone. That Scarlet doesn't play well with others is the reason she's been sent there in the first place. She has a lot to learn - about empathy, about forgiveness, about becoming a functioning member of society - in more ways than are immediately apparent.

Activities like this are often described as character building, something addressed directly by the people supervising Scarlet's experience, but character is precisely what is lacking here. Though we spend an interminable amount of time in those hills, an effective way to have us share her frustration, we learn very little about her, and other characters are still more thinly written. Flashbacks tell us that she's haunted by the violent death of her mother and there are elements of mystery around precisely how this occurred, but her generalised angst and resentfulness could be that of any teenager. The supervisors decide that what she really needs is love and up pops Dylan (Ava Capri). Though there's no noteworthy chemistry between the two, they're soon gazing longingly into one another's eyes or watching the night sky together. Later, we are told that they are forever bonded by love. We have to be told it because we never get the chance to feel it.

This is another of those indie films that use a blue filter as a substitute for atmosphere, and in so doing it ensures that there are no pretty views to break up the monotony of the hike. The few twists the film contains are signalled well in advance. There really isn't enough story to fill an hour and a half of running time and instead scenes are padded out with unnecessary dialogue which carries no emotional weight and merely repeats in slightly different ways what has already been established. A repetitive score compounds these problems.

Most of the acting is adequate in light of what is required but it would almost be a relief if it were bad - if there were any element of humour to lighten the experience. Aiming to say something about the meaning of life by way of a series of sleights of hand, this is a film that struggles to find its own meaning. It's an experience that few viewers will wish to repeat.

Reviewed on: 24 Oct 2019
Share this with others on...
The Experience packshot
At a wilderness camp for troubled youth, two girls form a bond that gets tested by love, money and experiences beyond their perceived realm of existence.

Director: Katerina Gorshkov

Writer: Katerina Gorshkov

Starring: Allison Kove, Ava Capri, Cameron Jebo, Brigitte Nielsen, Lou Ferrigno Jr

Year: 2019

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: US


Search database: