The Beta Test Review

The Beta Test Review 2
The Beta Test Review
The Beta Test
Director(s): Jim Cummings, PJ McCabe
Actor(s): Jim Cummings, Virginia Newcomb, PJ McCabe
Film Genre(s): Drama
Running Time: 93 min
CGM Editors Choice

Jim Cummings is on fire. No, not the Jim Cummings of Disney fame! Jim Cummings, the director/actor, that has been putting in work since 2009 and made it big with Thunder Road. From there, he moved into The Wolf of Snow Hollow and kept the train rolling. With The Beta Test, he asserts his prowess both behind and in front of the camera yet again.

The Beta Test is really easy to spoil, so I’ll keep things vague. We begin with the premise: people are getting purple invitations for a “no strings attached” sexual encounter. Cummings is Jordan Hines; a high-powered agent who is about to get married…and also gets an invitation.

The Beta Test Review 3

Cummings is great at showing off really relatable looks, both casual and intimate. From the get-go, he’s immediately troubled by the invite, and commitment for that matter. He starts to get into his own head, and we see weird visions that would feel right at home in a horror film.

It’s a perfect way to allow The Beta Test to get a little wild without going off the rails of reality. The fast-talking demeanour of Hines and the inherent life of a Hollywood agent (and the satire that goes with it) bolster the tension too. Hines constantly acting like nothing is wrong until things boil over (and details like the fact that he’s leasing his car) are noticed and essential. It’s almost American Psycho-like (with hints of The Firm) at points, but with a lower key hook than murder.

“With The Beta Test, he asserts his prowess both behind and in front of the camera yet again.”

Again, things are tense from the first few minutes, and The Beta Test doesn’t waste much time after that. It’s also occasionally funny, due in part to Cummings’ chops in ‘dramadies’ over the years (he also writes and directs this film in addition to starring in it). It allows him to get the framing just right for Jordan Hines’ reactions, which are paramount to the core of The Beta Test.

The Beta Test Review 1

Even for scenes that would normally come off as rote, we get a greater sense that something is going on with the Hines character. We’re always forced to be in a state of unease, and although this is clearly a one-off film, I would love to see more tales in the same style from the same people (ideally with a better yarn spinning around them, as The Beta Test itself sputters out in the final act).

By allowing the film to work within the confines of a slightly higher-concept framework, The Beta Test rises beyond the typical thriller chaff. A lesser creative team would have fumbled their way through, but Cummings has solidified his status as someone to watch going forward.

Final Thoughts


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