The Chaos Experiment Should Have Stayed in the Lab

The straight-to-DVD thriller The Chaos Experiment dares to go where few films tread: it mocks someone who prays at the altar of global warming alarmism.

So give Chaos props for such a bold stand, since the misbegotten movie doesn’t deserve much praise in nearly any other way that counts.

The film, now out on DVD, stars Val Kilmer as a professor who thinks all the gloom and doom predictions about global warming are wrong. Dead wrong.

The Earth will be warming faster and hotter than anyone expects. In three years we‘ll experience 130-degree days -- in December.

“That‘s a fact,” the professor gloats.

No one believes him, so he decides to take drastic action. He lures six strangers into a steam room under the guise it‘s a dating service stunt, cranks up the heat, and then throws away the key. It’s all about showing people how societal norms break down when the thermostat goes through the roof.

Then he tells his story to the local newspaper to drum up press for his “experiment.“ He wants publicity and doesn’t care if he goes to jail in the process.

The Earth must … be … saved.

So far, so original, if a bit overheated, but that’s hardly a sin for some guilty pleasures. And Kilmer sells his fantastical warnings as well as expected -- what a shame he’s been reduced to DVD fare of late.

Things deep south as soon as the story breaks away to those six trapped strangers. Suddenly, we’re in Cinemax After Dark territory, watching a gender-balanced group of attractive people wearing next to nothing and chatting away like some third-rate reality show.

The sauna dwellers are fighting well before they realize the predicament they’re in. It’s hardly a social experiment if the rats in the cage start squawking before the trap is sprung.

The only recognizable face amidst the steamy, sweaty bodies is Eric Roberts, who manages to maintain his dignity and look respectable in only a towel, but the script soon lets him down.

Veteran actor Armand Assante, playing a detective called in to investigate the professor’s claims, is a curious casting choice here, but he's tonally so very different than Kilmer that the pairing clicks. What they really need is a script with bite. Instead, they share a few tense moments, a scene or two where the electricity between them arcs into existence before quickly winking out.