Altered Minds is a psychological thriller about a tormented son who makes a desperate bid to save his sanity by unearthing family secrets before his father dies. Plagued by terrifying visions, Tommy Shellner hijacks a family celebration in an attempt to force a confession from his once CIA psychiatrist father. The warm reunion in their family home turns icy and spirals out of control when Tommy alleges his father adopted three children for the purposes of psychological experimentation.
What We Thought:
Altered Minds is a pretty solid psychological thriller. It has a big twist/reveal like you expect, but you definitely can’t guess it in advance.
What stands out first is the performances. Judd Hirsch has been a good actor for decades so you know he’ll be good in this. He is of course. I liked C.S. Lee on Dexter and I liked him in this as well. Jamie Ray Newman is good as the sister. Caroline Lagerfelt is good as the mom and Joseph Lyle Taylor is good as the older brother.
The standout is Ryan O’Nan though as the son/brother with issues. I know I’ve seen him in other things (Ray Donovan, The Iceman), but I thought he was really good in this. You never quite know if he’s completely nuts or just having memories/flashbacks. He captures your attention and holds it. Him and Hirsch have some really good scenes together.
The film is layered just enough so that you don’t really know the truth. You want to believe the son and others have odd stories and memories as well, but he does come across as not all there. You start believing one thing, then there’s just enough to make it unbelievable.
It’s not too smart either though. What I mean by that is, it doesn’t try to outsmart itself. Films like this can be too smart for their own good and then they lose the audience. There’s nothing worse than a head scratcher or something that just doesn’t add up. This unravels enough to leave you understanding the actual truth.
I usually don’t like single location films. A lot of times it feels unnecessary, but it works here. There is a scene or two outside and some flashbacks, but overall it’s a single location. All the characters are there in the house, predominantly in the same area. It keeps it tense and the characters close to one another.
For a film I had never heard of, I quite liked Altered Minds. It’s smart without stepping on its own feet. It has strong performances and the twist you probably won’t guess. For those reasons, it is…
- Deleted Scenes
- 2 Audio Commentary Tracks
- Director’s Video Logs
- Michael Wechsler Talks About Video Logs
Cast & Crew:
- Judd Hirsch
- Ryan O’Nan
- C.S. Lee
Recommended If You Like:
- What Lies Beneath
- The Glass Man
- Psychological Thrillers