Judd Hirsch Stars in "Altered Minds," a Compelling, Tense, Psychological Thriller
This film starts off somewhat ordinary fashion in that it is takes place in a rather conventional suburban home in the dead of winter with — what at first appears to be — just a run-of-the-mill family. Only it isn’t quite that. This is the home and family of one Dr. Nathaniel Shellner (Hirsch). As it turns out, the 75-year-old Shellner has led a most extraordinary life; he is a much lauded psychiatrist who has spent the entirety of his career working predominately with soldiers who have suffered with PTST (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). His work with traumatized patients has earned himself a Nobel Prize for his work, unfortunately it has put him at odds with his children. Leonard (Joseph Lyle Taylor), Tommy (O'Nan), Julie (Newman), and Harry (Lee).
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.
As the Story Unfolds
As the story unfolds, we come to learn that of his four children, only his eldest, Leonard is his natural child and the other three are adopted. Of the three youngest, Tommy is the most troubled. When the film opens, he is wandering around the neighborhood looking to find the grave of a dog the family owned that passed away when he was a child. Currently, something is still troubling him, some unnamed thing that is hovering just below the surface and is the Macguffin that is what is propelling this story forward, making it something of a compelling tense psychological thriller. While most of the Doctor.’s children are successful in their own fields, Tommy is the one of them who is the most troubled which, naturally enough, results in a conflict-filled present, with an uncertain future.
Altered Minds TRAILER
A Psychological Thriller
As Dr. Shellner’s family is gathered together for the icy, frigid, winter weekend, they become aware that the Doctor.’s health is failing and Tommy’s mental health is deteriorating even as his father’s physical health deteriorates. So the family has convened at the ancestral home where they are gathered for a final, bittersweet farewell to a sensational and inspiring public figure. Well, at least that was the initial idea until Tommy, whose already tenuous grasp on reality is most assuredly slip-sliding away, shows up and he goes so far as to accuse his father of adopting his children not so much out of concern for their future well-being, but so as to utilize them for some twisted psychological experiment.
Altered Minds is a Psychological Thriller
The Tension Ramps Up
The rest of the film proceeds along as the six people in the Shellner household (including Shellner’s wife (Lillian / Caroline Lagerfelt) interact with each other and the constantly bump up against each other while attempting to exorcise their respective demons. As can be expected, Tommy's accusation against his father is both hurtful and divisive. During the remainder of the evening an increasing number of incidents between the various family members on a number of interpersonal issues escalates the tension in the room as tommy keeps ramping up the accusations against his father.
A Satisfyingly Thriller
To be sure, while this film does, admittedly start off a tad slow, it does successfully build to its stunning reveal (which isn’t necessarily what you think nor is it something that isn’t totally out of left field, but it does come as something of a surprise and it is well worth sitting through the running time of this engaging DVD from Entertainment One (complete with deleted scenes, commentary tracks and other special features).