Katerina Gorshkov’s feature debut The Experience ties together a variety of genres under the umbrella of a teen coming of age story through the lens of Scarlet, Allison Kove, and her time at a wilderness camp designed to help her stop acting out. Once she arrives at this camp we see her working through her previous experiences from recent years as well as repressed elements from her childhood. As we bounce through these memories, we also see her father’s life outside of his daughter, which is far more dangerous than his family ever knew.
Scarlet has been acting out more recently after her father married her former tutor, a much younger woman, though he had been widowed after the mysterious death of her mother years prior. After a suicide attempt, her father, Lou Ferrigno Jr., is convinced to send her to The Hills of Heaven. While she has no desire to attend he manages to trick her into staying and once she arrives she spends every day hiking and being forced to try and examine her thoughts and emotions. She refuses to participate until the arrival of a new group member, Dillion. As the two spend more and more time together a relationship begins to emerge, but this blossoming romance is tinged with suspicion after Scarlet reveals a deep secret to Dillion, Ava Capri.
Outside of this core plot we see glimpses of two people in white outfits in a very clinical looking room discussing how best to help Scarlet. One of these mysterious figures is played by Brigitte Nielsen, who insists that feeling love is the best thing for the troubled girl. The movie moves between various plots with ease and Scarlet and Dillion act as a strong balancing point between the darker elements that appear in connection to Scarlet’s father. I will say there are some interesting twists near the end, but if I even hint at them they will give far too much away. Elements of this twist do tie in to discussions of fate and our existence in this world, which Gorshkov has handled in an unexpected way. I really enjoyed this movie and I found myself rooting for Scarlet to find love and connection with other people. The Experience releases tomorrow.