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Real-life horror fills 'The Stanford Prison Experiment' trailer

IFC Films releases a trailer for its thriller about the infamous 1971 psychological experiment that showed humans' susceptibility to carrying out and enduring punishment.

Get ready to feel sad about humanity again when IFC Films releases its dramatic thriller, "The Stanford Prison Experiment," on July 17. Video screenshot by Danny Gallagher/CNET

These days, horror movies feel like they're trying way too hard to scare us. You don't have to invent monsters to haunt our minds and make us fear the unknown. Science has shown us that they already live in our heads.

Take, for instance, the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971 in which 24 college students dressed up as prisoners and guards and attempted to play "Jail" for two weeks in a basement hallway as part of a psychological study. According to the experiment's official website run by Stanford psychology professor Philip Zimbardo, the study aimed to examine the effects of imprisonment on human behavior but the results showed something very sinister instead.

The guards transformed into cruel and harsh harbingers of punishment and psychological torture and the prisoners became so desensitized to their surroundings that they eventually thought of themselves as numbers instead of real people with names. Zimbardo's 1971 study and subsequent work raised new awareness about the psychological effects of imprisonment on both jailers and prisoners. The results are still relevant today, as the US has the highest prison population in the world.

IFC Films is finally bringing us a true reenactment of this infamous study with the film "The Stanford Prison Experiment" set for release on July 17 starring Billy Crudup as Zimbardo. It's directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez and written by former "South Park" scribe Tim Talbott. IFC released a trailer for the film on Tuesday.

Be warned. If you're the kind of person who likes to think of the world as a place where rainbows are abundant and people always try to do the right thing, you should probably just watch an episode of "My Little Pony" and go about your day.