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Altered Minds (2013)

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A family reunion goes awry when the oldest son makes the accusation that his dying father, a famed psychiatrist who also did work for the CIA, adopted his children for the purposes of psychological experimentation.
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Judd Hirsch ... Dr. Nathaniel Shellner
Ryan O'Nan ... Tommy Shellner
C.S. Lee ... Harry
Jaime Ray Newman ... Julie
Caroline Lagerfelt ... Lillian
Joseph Lyle Taylor ... Leonard Shellner
Jake Miller Jake Miller ... Sasha
Lily Pilblad ... Sylvia
Dennis Flanagan ... Sergeant Joseph Robbins
Hayden Signoretti Hayden Signoretti ... Young Tommy
Isaac Jin Solstein ... Young Harry Shellner
Marilyn Chris ... Elizabeth Robbins
Dana Konner Dana Konner ... Young Julie Shellner
John Havel John Havel ... Young Harry
Ish Singh Ish Singh ... Child #2 Playing
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Storyline

A tense psychological thriller exploring the troubled past, conflict-filled present, and uncertain future of the Shellners. 75 year-old Dr. Nathaniel Shellner's led an extraordinary life as a psychiatrist, earning himself a Nobel Prize. After having one child with his wife, Lillian, they decide to adopt from the camps where Dr. Shellner worked. Ultimately the Shellners have 5 children; Tommy, Julie, and Harry. As Dr. Shellner lies on his death bed, the family gathers for a final farewell. Untill Tommy arrives and accuses his father of adopting his children not out of love, but to use them for psychological experiments. Written by Michael Z. Wechsler

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Thriller/family drama

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

TV-14

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

20 November 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Red Robin See more »

Filming Locations:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Dr. Nathaniel Shellner: If a man fails his family, he fails life.
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Soundtracks

Happy
Written by Erin Sax and Patrick Kelly
Performed by Erin Sax
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User Reviews

 
A Few Twists, A Few Turns, and Secrets Uncovered
15 June 2016 | by dougray30See all my reviews

I've seen Altered Minds described as a psychological thriller, which is in part accurate. I prefer to think of it more as a psychological mystery. I went to public school with the Writer and Director and Producer Michael Z. Wechsler, so I already had made a mental note to see this film when it was released. A small crowdfunding campaign for additional production costs let me back it and get an early copy of the DVD.

The film stars Judd Hirsch as Dr. Nathaniel Shellner, a Nobel Prize- winning psychiatrist now 75 years old and slowly dying from cancer. As his family gathers for his birthday celebration, chaos begins to ensue as youngest son Tommy exhibits a worsening mental instability and paranoid accusations directed at his father. Tommy (Ryan O'Nan), who was adopted by the family as a youngster, is joined at the get- together by fellow adopted children Julie (Jaime Ray Newman) and Harry (C.S. Lee, who many will recognize from his role on the Showtime series Dexter). Also in attendance is the Doctor's faithful wife Lillian (Caroline Lagerfelt) and eldest child Leonard (Joseph Lyle Taylor) who is the only natural child.

As you would expect, one has to tread lightly when reviewing a film like this because of the need to avoid any spoilers. The focus of the celebration quickly moves from Nathaniel to Tommy, and even though his rantings and stories sound fantastic they begin to have an effect on his two adopted siblings as well. As Dr. Shellner's work has focused on traumatized patients – especially those from war zones or former military personnel – the adopted children have vague memories of their lives before being rescued and brought to the United States. And there is the usual tension between adopted children and the one natural child. Tommy becomes more and more insistent about his claims, and soon it becomes clear there may be more to the family history than meets the eye.

Shot on a moderate budget, the home and surrounding winter landscape is quite beautiful and captures the isolation the family is experiencing; there is no world but the family itself at that moment, and the microscope can only be turned within. Ryan O'Nan does a rather good turn as the troubled Tommy. His role is one that could have easily succumbed to overacting but I found he managed to walk the tightrope successfully. To my surprise, the acting I was least impressed with was that of my personal favorite Judd Hirsch and of Caroline Lagerfelt. Granted, both characters are quite reserved in personality, but I never was fully convinced by their moments of strong emotion, whether love or anger or despair. I think Mr. Hirsch played his Dr. Shellner a touch too analytically, and perhaps that reflected onto his wife's character.

Wechsler enjoys some clever misdirection in the plot; at least enough to muddy the waters and allow you to focus more on what is happening and less on trying to guess the answers to all the looming questions. Not everything succeeds fully, but there is enough which works to make Altered Minds enjoyable and entertaining.

Overall I think most fans of this genre of film will enjoy Altered Minds, and it is good enough for me to forgive Wechsler for writing a negative review of the Romero/King masterpiece Creepshow back in 8th Grade. Considering how much I love that movie, you should be able to see I give Altered Minds more than a simple passing grade.


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