Imagine the ability to remove PTSD from a veteran’s memory, or the prospect of editing the reward pathway in the mind of an addict. These are life-altering changes that could create a better world. But what if the ability to adjust your consciousness goes too far? Minor Premise takes us on a rollercoaster of science and ethics, as we race against time to solve a real-life brain teaser.
The film opens to the sound of a hospital monitor’s monotonous beeping, as a stern voice tells our main character (Ethan) that he will not be receiving credit for a research project. In what are presumably his final breaths, we learn [quite literally] that all of Ethan’s work will die with his father. Destroyed by this blow, Ethan throws himself into the development of a greater project; one that will help him emerge from his father’s shadow, the pressure of an old colleague (Dana Ashton of Twin Peaks)…and, one where he will use his own mind as the case study.
Ethan creates a new device that is capable of mapping out memories and emotions within the brain. But, when he attempts to use it on himself, the device causes a chasm within his mind. Ethan’s psyche is shattered into 10 different emotional states, each having its time in the spotlight for six minutes per hour. The race against the clock begins, as Ethan frantically tries to find the algorithm to piece himself back together, before parts of him begin to burn out and lead to brain death. Adding to the chaos, our main character’s more violent emotions begin to act out of their own volition.
Having had the personal experience of working in a neuroscience lab, the impending doom of grant proposals and not receiving credit for your painstaking work, are even greater fears than having my mind split into ten pieces. This is portrayed incredibly well by Sathya Sridharan (Ethan). His stress, frustration, and each emotional counterpart is palpable in every scene. We feel his character pushing himself past his limits, as the pressure to complete the study becomes immeasurable. His acting is the true strength of the film, and without it we may have gotten lost in the science jargon.
Although parts of the scientific theory may be lost on some of the audience, the story’s dedication to accuracy is something to behold. It is rare to find a sci-fi film that isn’t mostly junk science. It gives the film existential dread, or impending doom, as the audience mulls over the possibilities of this project becoming a reality. This dread is heightened by the addition of stop watches, countdowns, and damning security camera footage. The storyline becomes so all-encompassing, we hardly realize that our setting essentially doesn’t change throughout the entire film.
Even if the film might be a little too science-heavy for some, it adds many human elements with a love interest, loss, jealousy, and betrayal. We are desperately rooting for Ethan and his ex-girlfriend (Paton Ashbrook), another brilliant researcher, to succeed because of how engaging their characters are. As a feature debut for director Eric Schultz, this an incredibly dynamic piece of work. Packed with thrills and some excellent twists, this is a must-see for any sci-fi-loving nerd (me). You can watch the trailer for Minor Premise here.
WICKED RATING: 8/10
Director(s): Eric Schultz
Writer(s): Justin Moretto, Eric Schultz, Thomas Torrey
Stars: Sathya Sridharan, Paton Ashbrook, Dana Ashbrook
Release: In select theaters, virtual cinemas, and Digital & On Demand December 4th, 2020
Studio/ Production Co: Utopia
Length: 94 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller