beta test

"The Beta Test" is the official selection of the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

Students were lining up to get into the Mayer Theater on the night of Nov. 2 to attend a free screening of “The Beta Test” put on by LMU SFTV. "The Beta Test" is Jim Cummings' new film that he starred in, co-wrote and directed. Students were excited to see Cummings' new work as he is known for his other film festival hits such as "Thunder Road" and "The Wolf of Snow Hollow."

After the screening of the film, students were invited to stay after to participate in a Q&A with Cummings and his co-star and co-writer PJ McCabe.

“The Beta Test” follows the story of an engaged talent agent named Jordan Hines. He receives a purple letter that invites him to a no-strings-attached sexual encounter. Hines goes into this encounter blindfolded and is unable to see who is in the room with him. He leaves this encounter obsessed with finding the woman and waiting for another letter.

Throughout the movie, he slowly starts to lose his mind in search of the woman from the encounter. The audience watches Hines damage all of his relationships around him and commit several crimes in order to track down whoever sent the letter.

With the opening scene showing an intense murder that depicts a woman’s head being bashed into a wall and thrown off a balcony, Cummings and McCabe create a suspenseful yet comedic thriller. The film depicts the kind of insanity that ensues through several different monologues.

One of the key monologues takes place in a parking garage where Hines attempts to set fire to all of the evidence of his crimes that he committed throughout the day, but his fiance catches him in the act. He tries to explain himself to her by snarling and yelling at the top of his lungs.

The movie is sprinkled with impactful moments, but it was hard to keep track of what was happening. It seemed like one moment Hines was harassing his assistant and the next he was being assaulted by one of his clients, while name dropping Harvey Weinstein in every other scene in an attempt to bring light to the corruption in Hollywood.

Through all the chaos, it was hard to remember that the focus of the movie was supposed to be dealing with a sex conspiracy and the murders linked to it.

The movie juggles the different plot points of exposing the corruption of talent agencies, the struggling engagement of the main characters, the murders surrounding the purple letters, digital data mining and, of course, the sex conspiracy that started this whole mess.

The key that made this movie enjoyable to watch was how unlikeable Hines’ character really was. With every decision that he made, it was harder to see the good in him which made every scene entertaining in some way.

Overall, the movie was entertaining and had an interesting concept. During the Q&A, Cummings and McCabe shared the insider perspective on how they made the movie as independent filmmakers and how they got funding.

Freshman screenwriting major Joseph Mueller took their advice to heart: “It was really valuable to hear the honest perspective of what it’s like to work in the industry, especially because it’s an industry I want to go into. But I loved the movie. The comedy was so good. I respect them for being such honest filmmakers.”

This is the opinion of Cerys Davies, a sophomore journalism major from Monterey Park, California. Email comments to Follow and tweet comments to @LALoyolan on Twitter, and like the Loyolan on Facebook.

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