Written by: Adam Vaughn | December 3rd, 2020
Minor Premise (Eric Schultz, 2020) 2½ out of 4 stars.
Eric Schultz’s short film-gone-feature delivers a very introspective look at the subconscious mind, sending us down a twisting and turning journey. Yet, where Minor Premise succeeds in delivering an abstract, disorienting narrative that draws the viewer in by both intriguing and confusing them, it subsequently fails to capture an overall cohesive main message. By the end, Minor Premise feels like an unnecessarily complicated descendant of M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, minus the high stakes and prestigious cinematic conventions.
The film follows Ethan (Sathya Sridharan, Bikini Moon), a neuroscientist wielding his late father’s notes on isolating and capturing the parts of the human brain to deal with memories and personality traits. As Ethan plunges deeper into his father’s risky and dangerous work (experimenting on himself in the process), he delves into various major mental states, taking brutal and violent turns and putting those close to him in harm’s way. Ethan must discover the solution to the neurological invention before him, or risk losing his mind in every way possible.
The strongest, most effective element of Minor Premise is its seemingly nonlinear style of storytelling, as Ethan comes face-to-face with his various personalities in some moments, and returns to the present within smooth, disorienting transitions. Assuming the purpose of this technique is to create a sense of chaotic uncertainty, this structure completely draws us into Ethan’s mind, and is the most interesting way to tell a story about a man waffling back and forth between personalities. Mixed with the occasional abstract imagery, a varying sound design and score, and the differing unique performances by Sridharan, the tone of the film is what really sells this concept.
Beyond having a solid, artistically engaging tone, Minor Premise is still a very disjointed film, never really investing in an overall atmosphere to draw the viewer in. It has terrible issues with pacing and frequently repels the audience’s interest via its sluggishness and repetitious use of Ethan’s personality shifts. On that subject, Ethan’s various changes tend to be extremely unclear and unestablished as the film progresses, not always having a distinct appearance or performance.
I can definitely see the solid proof of concept established early in the film, and as a short film, Minor Premise makes a lot of sense. However, as a full-length feature, it manages to get lost in itself. While the fragmented nature of the editing does the film justice, it isn’t enough to lift the otherwise dry and lackluster premise off the ground and keep the audience focused. With a slightly more solid attention to cinematography, lighting and overall pace, Minor Premise could be a thought-provoking experience. As is, director Schultz’s attempt to bring a short story to full narrative fruition misses enough technical and conventional marks to deliver only a partially intriguing experience.