NOTE: Here is my review from Soda & Telepaths that was posted back on December 10th, 2020
I’m sure we’ve all seen a few science fiction films before that have used the same old trope. A scientist has a great invention, they can’t get anyone else to be the test subject so they test it out on themselves and the ensuing chaos is caused by the experiment going horribly horribly wrong. It’s a trope for a reason, it works and it often leads to an interesting character in the form of the scientist and can also lead to a devastatingly emotional ending (think of The Fly remake for a prime example of this). I love a good story of a scientist being put through the wringer because of their own hubris and Minor Premise presents an interesting version of this story, albeit one that’s a little more heady than most.
Minor Premise focusses on a neuroscientist named Ethan (Sathya Sridharan) who is trying to make sense of and complete his father’s work, with the help of his ex-girlfriend Allie (Paton Ashbrook). After using the device that he’s been working on, Ethan begins having lengthy blackouts. Turns out that the device has broken Ethan’s consciousness up into 10 different personalities, each one seeming to take control of his body for around 6 minutes. Now the race is on to figure out what caused this, how to fix it, and maybe solve a few serious personal problems at the same time.
Minor Premise has one of the more interesting, for lack of a better term, premises I’ve seen in a while, one that really allows its lead actor to stretch when the time comes for him to show off a few of the other personalities. The slow reveals are wonderfully handled and engaging, making you sit up straight the first time it seems like Ethan’s lost an hour. Considering this film has basically a cast of two for the most part and a single location, it’s never boring in regard to the story… however, oh my god is it heady.
There are some sci-fi films that almost brush aside the science element, a few throwaway lines of dialogue to show that they did think through what they’re doing before they go onto the fun stuff. Minor Premise is not one of those films, it wants to make sure it explains all the weirdness and has a lot of scenes that sound like two academics talking that you either need to pay full attention to or accept that some parts are just going to fly over your head. This film is not the kind you can put on in the background and still follow, it demands your attention not through doing anything bombastic but by refusing to coddle the audience when it’s laying out big pieces of, admittedly, kinda bland jargon.
When we finally get to start seeing all these various personalities dealing with the situation, that’s when Minor Premise really picks up and becomes a lot better as a piece of work. The final act is genuinely great and all props to the actors who manage to keep everything going at a great pace. Some of the personalities are basically just used as throw away jokes (Hi libido, I see you there) but some of them are terrifying and create some great tension, as we know that they could pop up at any moment and we might see what they do but sometimes we might not.
Add on top of all this a great sound design that puts the audience in the cluttered head of the main character and Minor Premise really does do everything it can to keep the audiences attention during it’s runtime. Some of this is basically compensating for the more complex ideas that make the film occasionally hard to follow, but it also helps to create a tone that keeps the audience on their toes.
Minor Premise is definitely a harder watch than others in its genre but it’s absolutely worth the time, if nothing else just to see what can be done with a tiny cast and very few shooting locations. It’s a movie you need to be in the exact right frame of mind to enjoy, and a movie you might need several viewings to fully comprehend, but if you’re in the mood for a movie that you have to pay close attention to and want to be a little challenged by, Minor Premise will definitely give you that.