A steam room is one of the more bizarre features in The Steam Experiment, a new movie starring Drew Barrymore as a deranged villains. More appropriately, Kilmer’s character is obsessed with the mysterious powers of steam. The movie follows her obsessive quest to find out what it is. More accurately, she wants to test the veracity of her professor’s contention, “It’s like the ultimate mind control technique.” With a lab full of obedient subjects and an army of assistants, the baddie is able to complete his mission.
Kilmer’s character gets trapped into a lab where he’s the only person capable of spoiling the environment. He sets up cameras and sensors to monitor the activity in the lab, but when the electricity goes out, everything comes to a grinding halt. The only way out is for Kilmer to unleash the evil forces that dwell within: a mass of ravenous batdorff, who rush into the lab and begin to attack the scientists. In order to save their lives, the team must race against time and work together to stop the evil.
The Steam Experiment is not quite a horror film, despite its blood and gore premise. More accurately, it’s more of a psychological thriller about how people respond to pressure. When the electricity goes out, many people panic and tend to do the automatic things: like crawl into a hole and hide, closing off the rest of the world. But there are other reactions, like drinking a lot of pop or going into a berserk rage. There are even some people who behave as if they’re actually immortal, refusing to succumb to the laws of nature.
If you’re familiar with the formula by which films create suspense, The Steam Experiment is not a shocking development. There have been several movies that use elements like the ticking time bomb and similar techniques, and it’s usually pretty obvious what the point of the storyline is. But when director Michael Crichton took a similar idea and transformed it into a mini-meltdown of Manhattan, the results were truly unforgettable. The steam, as it were, is the tension that drives the film, and when it reaches its climax (which you’ll notice is just when the film becomes most entertaining), you’re sitting there with your popcorn, waiting for the clock to wind down.
It’s true that the subject matter of a science-fiction thriller isn’t exactly the stuff you find in a romance. But it’s impossible to tell whether or not The Steam Experiment will be successful based on whether or not you care about anything other than the outcome. After all, the main characters aren’t really major characters from a popular book. And yet, those characters do something incredible that makes you pause, take a breath, and look at the screen, wondering how the world could actually be so wrong.
The movie is pure entertainment, even if at times you think the ideas could be more exploited for the sake of humor. The Steam Experiment director, Martino, manages to make the most absurd thing seem very real, which is part of the reason it works so well as a suspense thriller. The way the story’s slowly developed, building tension, then builds it some more as everyone’s anxieties build, is thrilling to watch. Watching the people try to figure out how to stop the steam from building is fascinating.
The overall theme of the film is the “chaos experiment,” a concept that’s been toyed with by various filmmakers over the years, but none has pulled it off quite like The Steam Experiment. The film takes place 100 years ago and involves a group of scientists who are trying to figure out how to stop a steam experiment from creating global warming. The film itself isn’t all that bad, but it lacks the emotional hooks that can make a movie truly memorable, and ultimately doesn’t live up to its hype.
The Steam Experiment isn’t a terrible film. It just isn’t very memorable. For most people, though, they’ll already have a good idea of what to expect with this twist on the global warming/steam mystery, and they’ll likely find it just as entertaining to watch as the rest of the entries in the series. However, the title character Jason Kilmer steals the show and turns out to be one of the best actors from The Secret, or any other animated film, for that matter.