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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

[Review] ‘Minor Premise’ Explores the Madness of Self With Superb Writing and Technicality

If you could construct your consciousness to your own liking, would you? This question serves as one of the core ideas explored throughout Minor Premise. Ethan Kochar (Sathya Sridharan), a neuroscientist desperate to escape the shadow of his father’s past work, strives to create a machine that will do just that – to allow a person to have control over who they want to be. Want a greater intellect? Amplify it. Want to rid yourself of PTSD? Rid it. But Ethan’s work is tainted by bitterness and obsession – which leads him down a road of fascinating and chilling results. 

Directed by Eric Schultz, written by Schultz, Thomas Torrey and Justin Moretto, the main conflict of Minor Premise comes in the form of a botched experiment that fractures Ethan’s mind. One day he receives a mysterious package that includes an old journal of his father’s; upon finding an equation within it, he enters it into his program and tests it out on the machine. This ends up splitting his mind into 10 distinct sections of his being; as he makes it clear in the film, these aren’t different personalities, but different aspects of himself that are heightened. Each section of his being, whether it be anger, libido, or intellect, takes over for six minutes within an hour; each shift causes Ethan to black out and endure brutal headaches. Making matters worse, the more time Ethan’s mind remains fractured, the closer he gets to a state of brain death. Along with his ex-Alli (Paton Ashbrook), he must work against the clock – and himself – to find a means to realign his psyche.

Whereas the split personality concept has been done a hundred times over at this point, Minor Premise offers a fresh spin on the approach. Not only is it a step away from the trope-ridden writing of shifting personalities utilized in other films, but there is also a legit science attached to Ethan’s project. For one of the biggest appeals to the film is its grounded direction. The film makes a genuine effort to provide its sci-fi presentation in a manner that’s rooted in reality (pertaining to subjects regarding neuroscience and biochemistry). Much of what Ethan is pursuing is grounded in work already done in reality, it is just exaggerated to fantastical levels. Many sci-fi films will throw a lot of fancy words at the audience to come off as heady and smart, but Minor Premise makes for a relatively easy to follow story in its exploration of science. The dialogue Ethan has with himself and with Alli is detailed, but also digestible – which seems contradictory for such existential musings – but works tremendously well in the film.

Ethan’s shifting mental state lends itself to one of the film’s other excellent strengths, its surreal nature. Though Minor Premise does utilize a variety of trippy visuals, the film primarily focuses on impeccable editing to establish an unreliable flow to its narrative. A combination of high-pitched rings, amplified atmospheric sounds, and abrupt jump cuts work to disorient both Ethan and the audience. The latter in particular are the most intriguing, for each jarring jump provides an understanding of Ethan’s unstable mind. The film also utilizes visuals appearing and disappearing, along with some shaky cam, to further elevate moments of mania.

The subject matter and technical aspects come together for a thrilling and suspenseful narrative. Ethan’s detachment from reality continuously keeps the audience guessing as to what will come next. Besides his own survival, his shifting mind state comes with a sense of danger for Alli, playing even more into the film’s tension. Having to keep eyes on the clock, she is limited in her work with Ethan and his intellectual state before his anger state arrives. Sections like anger and intellect bring out terrifying and insightful aspects of Ethan’s being, respectively. As a whole person though, he makes for a flawed individual who reflects the film’s thematic focus. 

Ethan doesn’t offer much to latch onto personality-wise; his bitterness and selfishness are established early on, acting as his primary settings alongside his intellectual curiosity. That said, when considering the film’s thematic focus, he does make for a somewhat interesting subject. Without getting into spoiler territory, it’s interesting when the layers behind Ethan’s negative qualities are peeled back – when the viewer gets a better understanding of why he acts the way he does. As the other big lead, Alli makes for a strong companion. She uses her smarts to help in the dilemma Ethan faces, while also acting to call him out on his bullshit and further reveal more of who he is to the audience. And for as much of a talent as Dana Ashbrook is, he is underutilized here as Malcolm. This is fine in the scheme of things, for his character doesn’t have too much of an impact on the overall narrative. 

With all the scientific heavy conversations taking place, the film does its greater thematic exploration through Ethan. As the audience comes to learn more about him and his past, one begins to understand how the philosophical concepts being spoken about fit into his life. When it comes to topics of the self and what makes us who we are, Ethan proves to be a fascinating person to study. In his selfishness and obsession, the film speaks to what impact our emotions and choices have on us. Not only does this examination make for a captivating experience, but it lends itself to introspective thought. 

Minor Premise makes for a strong delivery of intellect and suspense. Bolstering superb cinematography and sound design, the surreal technicality provides a kick that’ll stir one’s gray matter. And thanks to the excellent script, the film excels in conveying both rich scientific detail and sincere emotion. The effort to pull from pre-established neuroscience is commendable and allows for a unique perspective that may inspire viewers to learn more. As a work of science fiction, Minor Premise allows audiences the chance to partake in a cerebral rollercoaster of thrills, while also broadening their mind.

Minor Premise is now available on VOD.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3644971/review-minor-premise-explores-madness-self-superb-writing-technicality/

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