Top 5000
Down 5 this week

The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  17 July 2015 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,145 users   Metascore: 67/100
Reviews: 5 user | 45 critic | 26 from

Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.


Watch Trailer
0Check in

Top 25 Trivia Items From the Last 25 Years

Here are some amazing facts and figures to deepen your appreciation of the movies you love.

See the full list

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

list image
a list of 27 titles
created 03 Mar 2014
a list of 45 titles
created 9 months ago
a list of 23 titles
created 8 months ago
a list of 48 titles
created 7 months ago
a list of 43 titles
created 1 month ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015) on IMDb 7.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Stanford Prison Experiment.

User Polls

3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace, which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace's groundbreaking epic novel, 'Infinite Jest.'

Director: James Ponsoldt
Stars: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Anna Chlumsky
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A teen artist living in 1970s San Francisco enters into an affair with her mother's boyfriend.

Director: Marielle Heller
Stars: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Kristen Wiig
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A lonely college freshman's life is turned upside down by her impetuous, adventurous soon-to-be stepsister.

Director: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke, Seth Barrish
The Gift VI (2015)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A young married couple's lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband's past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.

Director: Joel Edgerton
Stars: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
Tangerine (2015)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.

Director: Sean Baker
Stars: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian
Dope (2015)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who's surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure.

Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Stars: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Two women who grew up together discover they have drifted apart when they retreat to a lake house together.

Director: Alex Ross Perry
Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Katherine Waterston, Patrick Fugit
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A tormented philosophy professor finds a will to live when he commits an existential act.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey
Grandma (2015)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A teenager facing an unplanned pregnancy seeks help from her acerbic grandmother, a woman who is long estranged from her daughter.

Director: Paul Weitz
Stars: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden
Trainwreck (2015)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy.

Director: Judd Apatow
Stars: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson
The Overnight (2015)
Comedy | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Alex, Emily, and their son, RJ, are new to Los Angeles. A chance meeting at the park introduces them to the mysterious Kurt, Charlotte, and Max. A family "playdate" becomes increasingly interesting as the night goes on.

Director: Patrick Brice
Stars: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman
Black Mass I (2015)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.

Director: Scott Cooper
Stars: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson


Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Philip Zimbardo
Christopher Archer
Anthony Carroll
Karl Vandy
Paul Vogel
John Lovett
Gavin Lee / 4301
Prisoner 416
Daniel Culp / 8612
Jerry Sherman / 5486
Peter Mitchell / 819
Jeff Jansen / 1037
Mike Penny
Jesse Fletcher


Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They were given 2 weeks. It lasted 6 days.


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including abusive behavior and some sexual references

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

17 July 2015 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Stanford Prison Experiment Project  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$37,514 (USA) (17 July 2015)


$643,557 (USA) (18 September 2015)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



See  »

Did You Know?


The german movie from 2001 'Das Experiment' with Moritz Bleibtreu and the american remake from 2010 movie 'The Experiment' with Adrien Brody and Forrest Whitaker are also based on the 'Stanford experiment' See more »


Version of The Experiment (2010) See more »


Ca ira
Written by Fabien Nataf
Performed by Joyce Jonathan
Published by Jayden Galipo Music, a BMG Production Music/Brian Paws Music/Sony Music Entertainment
Contains a sample of "We'll Get Along"
Courtesy of Polydor (France)
Under licence from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The ugly side of the human condition.
8 August 2015 | by (Suffolk, England) – See all my reviews

I've always been fascinated by the original Stanford prison experiment. It always had the ingredients for a fascinating study of human behaviour. Its conductor Dr. Philip Zimbardo knew that, it just had to be played out. Of course, The Stanford Prison Experiment is a story that's been notably portrayed before, such as the 2001 German film Das Experiment. I remember being a fan of it when I first saw it, but I admit I can't quite recall it enough to make a comparison here. Nevertheless, this American version which doesn't make substitutions is a preferable version, one that makes resourceful use of today's technology and young talent. There's a dual study going on here. One, the part that writes itself, a document of the actual experiment. And the other, an examination of the ethics of the experimenters. Here is the ugly side of the human condition and our desires to push one another to feel the sweet taste of superiority.

While it may lend the obvious yet compelling results of what imaginary power and authority does to people, it still needs to be well executed to work. Fortunately director Kyle Patrick Alvarez and writer Tim Talbott have the right handling of the material, working with great economy in balancing its dichotomy's. At first it's disarmingly casual in the way the volunteers are selected and summoned, making a point of its randomizations and often offering an endearing and natural sense of humour. While superficially bleak, it's having fun with the 70s clothes and oversized moustaches, without peeling back their integrity. But then real tension, real anguish, and a real sensation of danger and dread creeps in and The Stanford Prison Experiment becomes deeply unsettling in its dehumanization techniques. With a careful sense from Alvarez of how far to escalate each sequence, it rings true to human sensibilities of what would happen in this unique situation. There's always a reminder that it isn't real, but it doesn't stop you from feeling unbearably trapped. This is nature at work, combined with a touch of modern cruelty.

There is a tendency in the film's inherent and forgivably episodic narrative that it gets you attached to a character they're focusing on only due to their upcoming exit. Thereby the film loses steam bit by bit. It gradually wins you back afterwards, but each time it takes a little longer. Ezra Miller in particular is a highlight of the first half of the film, formulating some of the most memorable instances of the prisoner's rebellions and reluctances. He's missed, but his absence only breeds more tension and vulnerability as we're left with weaker willed volunteers. If anything, this film is an impressive display of the best talent from the next generation of actors. Hopefully all to soon be familiar faces; Johnny Simmons, Tye Sheridan, Brett Davern, and a guard with the most inventive choice of wording, Michael Angarano, all stick out among other strong performances. While a crowded ensemble does mean no character gets to be fleshed out to their full potential, Alvarez and Talbott at least give room for everyone a time to shine without any dim spots.

On the experimenters end, Billy Crudup is perfect casting as Dr. Zimbardo. Donning a beard that gives him an uncanny resemblance to Satan, it doesn't remove that trustworthy glint of compassion in his eyes. His usual warmth is countered by his malicious intent to shove the volunteers to their limits and it creates an enthralling inner conflict where he's finding his own limits. The film admittedly does lack a female presence giving the nature of 24 volunteers and all the scientists being men. Its only example is Olivia Thirlby as Zimbardo's girlfriend who later involves herself in the experiment and becomes a voice of reason, but a very welcome one. It may have blind spots and a few stumbles, but it doesn't hinder what the film does right. As I was completely wrapped in its deft and dense confrontations, I kept waiting for the film to explode. Perhaps recalling the more gritty approach Das Experiment took to its second half, instead this implodes, which is a much more restrained and satisfying conclusion to watch these invisible social constructs dissolve rather than erupt.

The Stanford Prison Experiment's wealth of strong material and performances are matched by its technical ambitions. The slick photography makes it cinematic with liberal collages of close-ups and swift camera moves but still keeping it intimate. When the scene calls for rigid obedience, any time the camera moves out of line we hold our breath. It's graded with a washed-out atmosphere, relishing in the moody darkness. I've been irritated with indie films that abuse a shallow depth of field in their photography for no good reason, but this film uses it to isolate you in its grasp and as a result the film shook me up for the rest of the day. While it gets under the skin of the prisoners and the scientists, I did find myself wanting to get behind the motivations of the guards, the most vocal contributors of the experiment. Instead, thats saved for an epilogue that feels like a wise afterthought, but it's a powerful note on the personal experiments we run just because the opportunity is there. The Stanford Prison Experiment is an ideal taut psychological thriller that bristles with youthful energy and will mostly likely remain standing as one of the best of the year.


4 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
You got to be kidding... HorrorJackson23
Is this movie worth seeing just for Olivia Thirlby? eyeforbeauty
So how do you think you would cope in this situation? pearlimaew
Rip Off of a German Film palmacci
The Experiment: the german movie about this fritz2525
The 'rumoured' cast members .. MPFourEedz
Discuss The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: