Absent a few well-intentioned but muddled attempts to “explain” the science behind a fractured consciousness, Minor Premise succeeds in exploring a simple idea all the way to its chilling implications. Managing the duel needs of complex pseudo-scientific accuracy - or at least authenticity - and narrative necessity was always going to be difficult for a small, indie production, but for the most part, director Eric Schultz manages to do enough to give audiences the go-ahead to suspend their disbelief. And once you do, you're in for a treat.
What if multiple selves - an angry version, an intellectual version, a libido version, etc. - combined to create the whole person? And what if those individual archetypes split, taking over one body at regular intervals? The intrigue lies in the twisted premise, and Minor Premise thrives when it focuses on the emotional toll this can place on the self, Ethan (Sathya Sridharan), and the woman who’s trying to help him, his ex-girlfriend and current colleague, Alli (Paton Ashbrook). It helps that Sridharan and Ashbrook turn in overwhelming performances, capturing the parallel deteriorations of a man going crazy and a woman who must interact with every version to save the whole self.
And Schultz keeps things moving, only rarely getting bogged down in the thorny mechanics of such an absurd set-up. Schultz's goal here is simple: don't give the audience too much time to stop and think about what's happening. He does just enough to sell the story, and then leans hard into the implications for Ethan and Allie. It's exactly the type of approach that can make low-budget, sci-fi filmmaking more thrilling than $200 million studio tentpoles.
Schultz's camera spends much of Minor Premise's runtime searching - Ethan's lab, his home, his eyes. DP Justin Derry throws shadows effectively without clouding the clarity that's so important to a movie full of twists and turns, and the score by Gavin Brivik is appropriately fractured. Overall, Minor Premise takes a simple conceit and pivots to deliver a major gut-punch. I look forward to seeing what Schultz does next.