“Altered Perceptions,” directed by Jorge Ameer, is a cinematic venture that proves to be a challenging experience for many viewers, thanks to its nearly two-hour runtime.
The central plot of “Altered Perceptions” revolves around a pandemic affecting individuals aged 60 and older. Senator Ted DeMarcos (played by Danny Fehsenfeld), hires the protagonist Alex‘s father, Dr. Joseph Feretti (played by Matt Fling), a neurologist, to investigate the mysterious pandemic. The narrative unfolds as Alex (played by Oran Stainbrook), navigates through a dystopian reality, encountering a prophetic figure from the future, Gary (played by Joseph DeMatteo), who warns of hidden motives behind the actions.
The pandemic or the vaccines seem to affect the minds of people causing them to commit gruesome, unexplainable murders. Alex with the guidance of this intergalactic prophet appears to be the only one close to finding out what the problem is.
At its core, the film appears to be more about mental health but attempts to play it off with a plot akin to a political satire about discrimination against people of colour and gays.
This film, which looks and feels like it could have been shot years ago and is only now seeing the light of day, surprises audiences by referencing contemporary issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, and boosters. Proving that it was made quite recently hence its 2023 release.
Unfortunately, this attempt to blend a seemingly dated aesthetic with current events doesn’t necessarily enhance the film’s impact. Instead, it contributes to an overall sense of confusion and a challenging viewing experience.
One of the film’s significant drawbacks is its attempt to be overly intelligent, resulting in a confusing and somewhat mind-boggling narrative. The film’s approach to incorporating elements of political satire, thriller, sci-fi, horror, and mystery lacks a clear and cohesive execution. Rather than fitting neatly into any of these genres, “Altered Perceptions” struggles to establish a distinct identity, leaving viewers uncertain about the film’s intended impact.
The runtime, close to 120 minutes, adds to the challenges of sitting through the film. The narrative’s lack of clarity, combined with a prolonged duration, may test the patience of even the most dedicated viewers. While some films successfully use an extended runtime to build tension and develop characters, “Altered Perceptions” seems to lose its way, meandering through subplots and themes without a clear sense of purpose.
Despite its attempt to reference current events, the film’s integration of COVID-19, vaccines, and political themes feels disjointed. The blend of a seemingly outdated visual style with contemporary issues creates a disconnect that hinders the film’s overall cohesiveness. The narrative’s lack of a clear genre focus further exacerbates this disconnect, making it challenging for audiences to engage with the story on a meaningful level.
In terms of performance, Oran Stainbrook delivers a convincingly moving portrayal of Alex, navigating the complexities of the role with skill. He appears to be the one person/character holding the film’s loose plot together.
However, even strong performances cannot fully compensate for the film’s narrative shortcomings. Although seasoned stars Eric Roberts and Sally Kirkland make appearances in this film they certainly do not add any ‘seasoning’ to it to make it seem any better. They only seem to add a layer of credibility to the cast, but their talents alone cannot salvage a storyline that struggles to find its footing.
In the end, “Altered Perceptions” falls short of expectations, presenting a convoluted narrative that attempts to blend genres without a clear direction. Its ambitious approach to incorporating real-world issues feels forced, contributing to a viewing experience. I would score this film 5/10.
This might not be the film that keeps you interested from start to finish, it might also not be the one that has you pondering about the world and where it’s heading long after it ends.
If you find yourself with some free time and are in the mood to watch something to pass the hours, you might consider giving this film a try. However, it’s important to manage your expectations, as it doesn’t offer a cohesive and engaging cinematic experience.