When you hear “science fiction film” do you automatically think of spaceships and lasers? Do you start asking how the movie compares to Star Wars or the latest Marvel Superhero film? Or do you desire some sort of crime or action adventure element that Christopher Nolan weaves in his futuristic films? When I talk about Minor Premise as science fiction, you need to understand that it about science and not merely using a view of tomorrow as launching pad to giant laser beam shootouts or a high tech heist. This is about the cutting edge of neuroscience as conducted in a basement by a scientist who might have gone too far.
Ethan (All The Little Things We Kill‘s Sathya Sridharan) has been working on his latest project in his lab, but has hit a major wall in making the computer program work. His work on being able to capture imagery of memories isn’t quite where he wants it. He feels a bit of pressure from the college in keeping his research grants. His colleague Malcolm (<i>Twin Peaks</i>’ Dana Ashbrook) insists he might want to look into his father’s research again. Ethan’s not to hot on that concept since the last time he finished up one of his father’s project, the school didn’t want to give him real credit. In the midst of this career crisis, a package arrives with his father’s old notebook. Amongst the pages is what appears to be the key to his latest project. He plug it into the computer and it seems to work. He then puts the program to use by sticking his head into a neuron transfer device that looks like an old hairdryer. He wakes up when his ex-girlfriend, Allie (Power Book II: Ghost‘s Paton Ashbrook) drops be his home. They discover that his experiment has split his mind into 10 ways. The 10th is his normal self. The others include anger, anxiety, intellect and unconscious. The 10 versions of himself rotate possession of his body. While this sounds like fun, his intellectual self deduces this carousel of selfs is going to kill him in the next few days. He and Allie have to figure out a way to get back to have one person inside his mind.
Director Eric Schultz along with his co-writers Justin Moretto and Thomas Torrey have constructed a film that has pushing the boundaries of science at its core. They create an amazing level of tension as part of the ticking clock in the film is Allie having to flee the lab when certain personalities take over Ethan. For a movie that rarely leaves Ethan’s house, you get a sense of a massive chase within the character. Also making the film engrossing is the performance of Sathya Sridharan. He’s able to show his different selves without going to schlocky comedy. Sridharan’s face might look familiar since he’s had quite a few small roles on TV shows such as Elementary and Succession. Paton Ashbrook and Dana Ashbrook play well against the multitude of Ethan. In case you’re curious, Paton is Dana’s niece. But he proves he deserves much more lines as he keeps up the internal tension for 95 minutes. Director of Photography Justin Derry and his crew bring out details in the shadows and darkness of a Gordon Willis level.
Minor Premise is the kind of science fiction film that will make you immediately go online to see if it’s based off any truth. Or at least tweet at Hamilton Morris of Vice’s Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia.
The videos is 2.35:1. The 1080p transfer is sharp for such a darkly shot film. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA so you can heard the strange noises inside Ethan and rave music when that personality takes over. The movie is subtitled.
Dance Party (2:22) is the one man rave moment in the lab.
Behind the Scenes (1:44) has Sathya Sridharan do an old woman’s voice during a lunch break. We get to see the camera rig during the dance scene.
Meet the Sections (1-9) (3:20) shows off the various sections of Ethan’s brain.
Short Film (7:30) is the original test film for the feature length version when it was called “Premise.”
Teaser Trailer (1:03) talks about memories and imprints on the brain. It breaks down the sections and the mystery of section 8.
Trailer (2:13) gets into the fractured consciousness.
Director’s Commentary features Eric Schultz, Justin Moretto and Thomas Torrey talking on Zoom because it’s recorded during the pandemic. They first thank you for watching the film a second time with the commentary to find out more. And they do tell more.
Utopia presents Minor Premise. Directed by Eric Schultz. Screenplay by: Eric Schultz, Justin Moretto and Thomas Torrey. Starring Sathya Sridharan, Paton Ashbrook and Dana Ashbrook. Running Time: 95 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released on March 30, 2021.