Do you know how hard it was to find a book and a movie with the letter X? VERY hard. Actually, I didn't find any, so you'll cut me some slack if the following just contain an x somewhere and if they aren't really horror, right?
The Experiment (Das Experiment, 2001)
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.
Plot: The movie is based on the infamous "Stanford Prison Experiment" conducted in 1971. A makeshift prison is set up in a research lab, complete with cells, bars and surveillance cameras. For two weeks 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards. The 'prisoners' are locked up and have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the 'guards' are told simply to retain order without using physical violence. Everybody is free to quit at any time, thereby forfeiting payment. In the beginning the mood between both groups is insecure and rather emphatic. But soon quarrels arise and the wardens employ ever more drastic sanctions to confirm their authority.
Review: The film is based on the infamous Stamford Prison Experiment and then taken to its logic conclusion had the experiment not being abandoned. For starters, the experiment in itself is very interesting and material for a whole thesis (which it is), so this movie is the ultimate trip for those interested in Psychology. It is deeply disturbing but not because there's blood, gore, or special effects, but because it seems plausible. There is violence but nothing gut-wrentching in itself, it is only when we think this is real and everyone of us can be trapped in these mind games where we might turn into ugly, cruel beings. I saw The Experiment about fifteen years ago and it left a lasting impression that echoes to this day. Whenever I feel like I want to kill an idiot on the street, I recall this movie and I'm afraid.
Deus-X by Joseph A. Citro.
Blurb: Two seemingly unrelated events set in motion a complex plot: In a secret government installation in California, a political prisoner is grotesquely executed. At the same time, on the East Coast, an elderly Vermont farmer vanishes, the victim of an otherwordly abduction. Three amateur investigators with divergent world views--a psychologist, a physicist, and a priest--join forces to discover the relationship between these two events. Stalked by a murderous psychopath intent on stopping them, they encounter UFOs, inexplicable religious phenomena, multiple personalities, and overwhelming psychic violence. They are drawn inexorably forward through the gothic halls of a Canadian hospital for elderly and demented priests to the locked chambers of a covert American repository for space-age weaponry, where they uncover a sinister application of computer technology.
Review: Again, not what I would call 'horror' but with certain horror elements. I would describe Deus-X more like a Sci-Fi book in the style of The X Files (hey, what do you know, an X!). Citro is a renown bestseller nonfiction chronicler of the occult. Putting to good use his ample knowledge of the theme, he adeptly adds symbols and paranormal occurrences that have gain the favor of many, including the Horror Writers Association who has labeled this book as among the one hundred best books ever written in the genre. Of all the books I have reviewed for the challenge, this is the one that can please the biggest audience. Lovers of mysteries with a touch of paranormal, psychological thrillers with a twist of religious horror, and plain old sci-fi will find their thirst quenched by this unusual gem.