Altered Minds (2013)


1hr 46 mins| 2013| Psychological Thriller 

Directed & Written by: Michael Z. Wechsler

Stars: Judd Hirsch, Ryan O’Nan, C.S Lee, Jamie Ray Newman and Joseph Lyle Taylor

Plot:  Dr. Nathaniel Shellner (Judd Hirsch) is suffering from lung cancer and just wants to be with his family one last time, but things go awry when one of his kids starts to make accusations, implying that their dad may have performed experiments on them when they were younger.


The film opens with the family together; all but one. A warm gathering reminiscing about the past. Everything is normal until their father, Dr. Nathaniel Shellner, mentions Tommy. Tommy is their brother, however their silence indicates that Tommy has caused some tension lately. 

Tommy is introduced immediately, in a more drab light. Saturation has been all but removed from his appearance,  giving a sense of desperation, hopelessness. He is on a mission to find an urn containing the remains of the old family dog. Scouring the neighborhood in the dead of winter to retrieve it. He also has a very strange attachment to icicles. Its an obsession really. 

Tension, tension, tension! As soon as Tommy reunites with the rest of the family, the room is constantly filled with tension. Some moments are worse than others, but the awkwardness and shared glances linger constantly. 

As the film goes on, the audience learns three of the four children are adopted. Tommy, a successful horror novelist, Julie, a photographer and Harry, a successful violinist. There is a strong bond between Dr. Shellen and Tommy. In fact, Tommy receives so much attention from him, that Leonard, the only biological son, is clearly jealous and desperate for his fathers attention. Leonard is following in his dads footsteps as a psychiatrist and it’s obvious he hasn’t accepted the others as his true siblings. 

Tensions continue to rise, accusations ensue, and buried memories come boiling to the surface causing chaos and torment. Can the truth set them free??


Diabolically Entertaining!!

Final Thoughts

Holy shit! It’s rare that I give out 5 stars. My goal is too always remain neutral, provide unbiased reviews; show the good and bad. Every now and then, a film like this comes along and I have a hard time finding the bad. This isn’t a “scary” movie by any means, but it’s rich in suspense and dialogue. I could not take my eyes off of the screen; the tension and mystery are captivating! This veteran casts delivers their performance with such conviction, the audience can empathize with each of them. Another thing is character arc, we hardly see it in horror/thrillers. In this film, we see most of it in Dr. Shellner and Tommy, but we also see a little with the other siblings. Psychological thrillers can sometimes be hard to follow but this film gives us just enough to hold on to without getting turned around. All of the characters are damaged in some way, and we can’t tell if their reality is being led by said trauma. It is hard to pin point who the villain is; who we should hate. One thing I love is CLOSURE!!! Now I’m not saying I don’t love a movie that makes your scratch your head at the end, but this one gives the audience satisfaction from start to finish. 

It’s hard to believe this is a low budget film (estimated 1,000,000) The production value, acting, dialogue and cinematography are very well done. The films main stage is the house. The audience is rarely taken outside of this scenery but the director, Michael Wechsler does a great job of avoiding the trappings sometimes caused in this situation; creating a dynamic plot in a potentially congested environment. The cinematography changes throughout to keep the film fresh, keep the audience guessing as to what may be the actual truth. I highly recommend giving this one a shot!! ( As if that wasn’t obvious) Please note this film is also known as “The Red Robin”

Hope you enjoyed this review, stay creepy my fiends!


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Check out the trailer below!!

Bloody Star
5 out of 5 Stars


  • suspense/drama

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