What is Darkenfloxx in Spiderhead, Explained: Is it a Real Drug?

Based on the short story ‘Escape from Spiderhead’ by American author George Saunders, ‘Spiderhead’ is a sci-fi thriller series set in the not-so-distant future. Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth), a prison overseer and scientist, uses the eponymous facility to test his trugs on volunteering inmates. Before coming to Spiderhead, the inmates were all incarcerated at state prisons. They agreed to be part of Abnesti’s trial in exchange for commuted sentences and certain privileges. Spiderhead is unlike any other prison. There are neither locked doors nor orange jumpsuits at this facility. The inmates, who are all convicted murderers, are allowed access to almost everywhere. However, as Jeff (Miles Teller), who is one of the inmates, finds out, Spiderhead has quite a few secrets. Darkenfloxx is one of the drugs that appear in the film. Here is everything you need to know about it. SPOILERS AHEAD.

What Is Darkenfloxx?

About halfway into the film, Jeff discovers a Bingo card among Abnesti’s research notes and realizes that the other man uses the slots in the card to name his drugs. Darkenfloxx is alternatively called I-16. It’s one of the boxes that have gold stars on it. This implies that its trial has been a success. Darkenfloxx increases mental and physical stress to a radical degree. During one of the tests, Jeff is placed with fellow inmates Heather and Sarah separately, and under the influence of N-40, he has sex with them both. Later, Abnesti invites him to the observation room and asks him to choose between Heather and Sarah for the administration of Darkenfloxx. It becomes apparent that Jeff and the others inmates were administered Darkenfloxx before, and almost all of them seem to hate its effect. As a result, Jeff refuses to make the choice, asserting that he doesn’t favor one woman over the other. Although Abnesti is initially skeptical, he realizes that Jeff is telling the truth and stops the experiment.

Despite this, Abnesti later brings Jeff back into the observation room and tells him that the Protocol Committee of the pharmaceutical company he works for has instructed him to administer Darkenfloxx on Heather. It doesn’t matter whether Jeff acknowledges it or not. This is a lie. The company’s name is Abnesti Pharmaceuticals, and Steve Abnesti is its owner. When Darkenfloxx is released into Heather’s system from her MobiPak, the device used to administer the drugs, she suddenly becomes agitated and violent before killing herself under the influence of the drug. Abnesti later discovers the connection between Jeff and another inmate Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett). In the climactic scene, Abnesti makes Jeff administer Darkenfloxx to Lizzy.

Is Darkenfloxx a Real Drug?

No, Darkenfloxx isn’t a real drug. But it’s one of the drugs that also appear in Saunders’ short story, which was originally published in The New Yorker in December 2010. In the story, there is no character named Lizzy. Instead of Sarah, Jeff is told to choose between Heather and an inmate named Rachel. In the climax of the short story, Jeff refuses to administer Darkenfloxx to Rachel. This prompts Abnesti and his associate, Verlaine, to leave the room to acquire a waiver for administering an obedience drug to Jeff. Hoping to protect Rachel, Jeff administers Darkenfloxx on himself. He dies of suicide under its influence.

Read More: Does Spiderhead Have a Mid or End-Credits Scene?