The idea of subliminal messages in the media or used as a weapon have always been the thing of the paranoid mind. There is a possibility of course that they are real, and we are all being controlled. The Holly Kane Experiment is a movie that looks at the possibility of a successful method for subliminal messaging being created, then used for a very dark reason.
Holly Kane (Kirsty Averton) is a psychologist looking for funding for her experimentation into reprogramming the subconscious mind. When she finds herself on the wrong end of a malpractice suit she finds herself agreeing to work for Marvin Greenslade (Nicky Henson), whose funding leads her down a path where she begins to worry about her own sanity, and who is in control of her mind.
What is interesting about The Holly Kane Experiment is that it focuses on the character of Holly Kane who has many levels to who she is. Her fear of mental illness pushes her to experiment on herself to the point that she worries that it is her sanity slipping, rather than some form of mind control taking place.
While the viewer is clued in on what is happening to her, there is still a feel that the truth could suddenly be turned on its head, and that we are all part of Holly’s paranoia. Even though this may not be the route taken, the movie still takes a very sinister turn and becomes a disturbing experience, especially with the level of sexual abuse that takes place within the movie.
The idea that subliminal messages can be fed into the mind is something that while we may not have been through it, is believable. This is what makes The Holly Kane Experiment feel impactful on a personal level. There are also moments of intimidation and sexual intimidation that is questionable, but it also arguably ramps up the tension for the viewer, and adds to the discomfort of what the viewer is experiencing.
If there is one problem with the film, it is the pacing. While many films do well from the so-called slow burn, The Holly Kane Experiment seems to enjoy the slow pace that it puts on events. While it is worth sticking with it for the faster paced conclusion, the slowness does test to bash away at the viewer, and it does feel like a film that would do better with a faster pace.
While I do believe this to be the case, the slow pace also works well to create the disturbing atmosphere, and this is important. Subliminal messaging and mind manipulation isn’t something that will happen at the flick of a switch, it is an insidious method of attack that lasts with the victim for some time. We are even told this at the beginning of the film, when Holly herself says the effects of her procedure take days to wear off.
The Holly Kane Experiment is about feeling trapped, and the film makes the audience feel this discomfort, not only for themselves but for Holly as well. It can be hard to watch at times, especially based on the fact that we know exactly what is happening, and we are powerless to stop it. That is of course the point of the manipulation that is taking place, not only to the character, but the viewer themselves.
For fans of thrillers that really do make you feel like your brain has been hit with a hammer, The Holly Kane Experiment is a film for you. There are many that may feel the pace of the film is too slow, but for those that stay invested until the end, it is well worth watching.
The Holly Kane Experiment is out now in the UK, read the film’s website for more details, including how to see it in the US.