As many of my readers know I’m a major film buff. Not really big on the whole superhero movement or the cult horror flicks, but what really grabs my attention is a good old psychological thriller. This week I was lucky enough to be granted an exclusive preview of new indie film ‘The Holly Kane Experiment’ – a psychological thriller exploring the darker side of relationships and the increasingly alarming influence of powerful men.
Penned by Father-son duo, Mick and Tom Sands, the film centres around Holly Kane, a 29-year-old psychologist experimenting with mind control in a quest to tame her unconscious thoughts. Holly is experimenting with drug-fuelled ‘subliminal programming’ when two very different men come into her life.
Firstly the mysterious Dennis MacIntyre played by James Rose, a nervous yet impulsive individual who upon a chance meeting in a local cafe plucks up the courage to ask Holly to dinner. At first sight Dennis seems to be a cause for concern, he comes across vulnerable and a tad unstable and doesn’t seem like a natural fit for the ambitious Holly. As it turns out, Dennis proves to be something of a saving grace for Holly and never gives up on her, even in the most exceptional of circumstances.
The second relationship comes in the form of 73 year old Marvin Greenslade, an esteemed psychologist played by Nicky Henson and given my focus on relationships it is this particular interaction which prompted me to write this post.
Whichever way you choose to examine The Holly Kane Experiment, I’ve no doubt you’ll reach a very positive outcome. This aforementioned relationship however, is for me where the film becomes most poignant. Why? Well the connotations to current Hollywood scandal is really quite striking.
Over the past few months movie fans have looked on in horror as some of the biggest and most respected names in the business have been outed for a series of truly shameful and prolonged abuses of power, with many more allegations appearing in the world’s press on an almost weekly basis. This of course is where the character of Marvin Greenslade finds the ultimate relevance.
Whilst watching the plight of Holly at the hands of Greenslade you can’t help but think of both Hollywood’s abused and abusers. The physical and psychological distress of the abused, the relentless fear and anguish, and of course the unsettling thought processes and actions of the abusers. As with The Holly Kane Experiment, you find the victims questioning their sanity when in fact it is the abuser, or the manipulator, who should in fact be questioning theirs.
Portraying Holly’s trauma at the hands of a manipulative man was of particular importance to Director Tom, having seen first-hand how his girlfriend, an accomplished actress, had been treated in years gone by. He stated: “My girlfriend is an actress and she’s told me about many situations she’s been asked to put herself in which are completely inappropriate. Unfortunately many producers think they can take advantage of their position of power.”
This is where we realise the full extent of the harrowing situations many actresses (and actors) have found themselves in. When someone with a stellar reputation expects, or even takes, something from you, how do you say no? How do you make accusations against someone when no one knows your name and the whole world knows theirs? Many of Hollywood’s victims have only been able to tell their story many years after their abuse occurred, you can only imagine the extent of the torment they’ve had to hide away
It is given these news stories that we find real empathy for Holly. Greenslade is not only esteemed in his profession, he was a figure Holly looked up to and admired as a student. In many ways, you might say he was her Hollywood Producer.
Of course abuse of power and manipulation isn’t just a movie theme or a Hollywood issue, it’s very much prevalent in normal, every day relationships. Extreme forms of manipulation can quite easily be considered a form of domestic abuse, an issue many of us are all too familiar with. In 2017 alone over 1.9 million complaints of domestic abuse were made in the UK alone, with over 92% of the defendants being male. This of course does not take away from the experiences of male victims, however it is difficult to ignore the vast difference in the numbers. Power struggles are so incredibly common in relationship, but it’s worrying what can happen when the struggle shifts too far.
Actress Kirtsy Averton who plays the title character also weighs in on the issue through her analysis of the character: “Holly fears losing control. It has shaped her life, her work and formed the person she has become. It’s this fear that drives her whilst allowing her to be manipulated in the most awful way. Though it is through these experiences of trauma and manipulation that she is finally able to confront these fears. The film illustrates the horror of how a woman’s vulnerability can be manipulated by a man in a position of power.”
It is much to the credit of both Mick and Tom Sands that they manage to examine such issues with great sensitivity, particularly whilst a gripping, psychological thriller plays out in front of us. A truly unique film that provokes not only empathy for the fictional characters on-screen, but empathy for the very real victims off-screen as well.
The Holly Kane Experiment is released UK wide, Monday 12th February 2018. Available to watch on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Vimeo on Demand at www.thehollykaneexperiment.com.