altered minds

ALTERED MINDS (aka The Red Robin) was written and directed by Michael Z. Wechsler and stars Judd Hirsch, C.S. Lee, Ryan O’NanJaime Ray NewmanCaroline Lagerfelt and Joseph Lyle Taylor.

Hirsch stars as ex-CIA psychiatrist-turned- humanitarian Nathaniel Schellner, renowned for his work with war orphans suffering from PTSD — several of whom he and his wife (Caroline Lagerfelt) adopted. About to succumb to cancer, Nathan welcomes the entire family – including adoptees Harry (C.S. Lee), Julie (Jaime Ray Newman) and Tommy (Ryan O’Nan) – back to their idyllic home for a final gathering before his death. Unfortunately, the warm reunion spirals out of control when Tommy, a tormented novelist, makes a stunning accusation that his father adopted his children not out of love but for dark experiments in mind control. Plagued by terrifying visions of secret labs, underground cells and implanted electrodes, Tommy makes a desperate bid to save his sanity by uncovering family secrets before it’s too late.

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The story for this dark psychological thriller is smart and thought-provoking but the movie itself is an extreme slow burn. The focus is mainly on Nathaniel Schellner and his tormented son Tommy who is determined to expose deep, dark secrets about his loving father at any cost. Tommy keeps looking for this mysterious urn plus there’s a red robin and even ice cycles that play into the story. That’s all I’ll give away. The longer the night gets, the more uncomfortable the situation becomes and the rest of the family slowly becomes restless and uneasy. They all get to show their tormented sides by the end of this chilling play. The movie plays out like a Hitchcockian-style thriller as the answers Tommy has been searching for are ultimately uncovered. The shocking secrets are finally exposed but not everything is what it seems. This dark reunion is definitely a get together that this scarred family will never forget.

Okay, Altered Minds is definitely more story driven and a dark, psychological character study so don’t go into this one expecting blood and gore because it’s not that kind of movie. Well, there is a little blood but not much. Director Michael Z. Wechsler keeps his main focus on the characters where Judd Hirsch and Ryan O’Nan put on two powerful performances. There’s also this old house and the cold and isolated setting that helps to tell this chilling tale.

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The front of the packaging features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The Blu-ray disc also features some similar artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this standard-definition release were really good. I didn’t have any issues at all with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Altered Minds ended up being a slow burn but it was still a really good watch. The story was smart and thought-provoking but not all of the characters were interesting. To me it felt like some of the family members were simply placed there to take up space while the movie focused mainly on Nathaniel Schellner and his tormented son Tommy. They all have their moments but the focus pretty much stays on these two characters as everything all plays out and the secrets are ultimately revealed. Tommy’s unhealthy determination and persistence does finally uncover something shocking but it’s not exactly what he’s been searching for. You know that saying some things are better left alone? Yeah, this is one of those things. The movie is currently available on all major VOD platforms and will release on DVD on June 14th.

Distributor: Gravitas Ventures

Run Time: 93 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

DVD Video: 16×9 Widescreen (2.35)

DVD Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: 

  • Teaser (01:45)
  • 9 Deleted Scenes (20:39)
  • Director’s Video Logs (22:38) 
  • 2 Audio Commentaries / Behind-the-Scenes and Production


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