Scene from “Spiderhead” —PHOTOS COURTESY OF NETFLIX
Would you be willing to manipulate a person’s free will to get him to toe the line? In the wildly provocative science-fiction film “Spiderhead,” helmed by “Top Gun: Maverick’s” Joseph Kosinski, guilt-stricken inmates in a state-of-the-art correctional facility are seen volunteering as subjects for emotion-altering, mind-steering drug tests in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Inspired by George Saunders’ dystopian short story, the glossy thriller, which premiered on Netflix last weekend, takes place in a not-so-distant future. It revolves around “senior” inmate Jeff (Miles Teller) and easygoing scientist Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth, charismatic as always), who’s supervising the experiment that manipulates its subjects’ diverse moods and emotions—from love and laughter, to leisure and libido.
But the stakes get higher for Jeff when he develops feelings for new recruit Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett of “Lovecraft Country”). When it becomes clear that the potentially harmful experimental drug called Darkenfloxx—which causes extreme mental and physical pain—could soon be injected to Lizzy, Jeff begins to question if the drugs are really being produced to benefit the greater good.
Early last year, we were invited to attend a virtual set visit and take part in a long-lead interview with the lead stars of “Spiderhead,” who were then taking a break from filming on a “locked-in” set in the Gold Coast of Australia.
“‘Spiderhead’ is a sci-fi dystopian love story rolled into this thought-provoking look into the nature of free will,” Jurnee said when asked to describe the film. “It’s hard to describe the movie without saying too many spoilers about it.