The Beta Test, 2021.
Directed by Jim Cummings.
Starring Jim Cummings, Virginia Newcomb, PJ McCabe, Kevin Changaris, Olivia Grace Applegate, Jessie Barr, Malin Barr, Jacqueline Doke, Wilky Lau, Grant Rosenmeyer, Laura Coover, and Keith Powell.
A married Hollywood agent receives a mysterious letter for an anonymous sexual encounter and becomes ensnared in a sinister world of lying, infidelity, and digital data.
In the middle of busy day-to-day Hollywood agent duties and marriage preparations, Jim Cummings’ Jordan receives a mysterious purple envelope with a letter inside inquiring and instructing how to meet a stranger for an anonymous, kinky one-night-stand. Among the details to fill out are Jordan’s personal kinks, of which the first one he checks off is “dominant.” That’s true about the character in theory, but it sure as hell is not showing as we observe his everyday life.
Writing and directing The Beta Test (with two fantastic works already on his resume in Thunder Road and The Wolf of Snow Hollow, this time writing alongside PJ McCabe), Jim Cummings once again has a firm grasp on absurd tone and his livewire Jim Carrey resembling protagonist. A suspenseful prologue also clarifies these envelopes’ sinister and dangerous side, as a Swedish woman phones the police fearing for her life. She is still brutally murdered, setting the stage of darker thematic elements at play.
It’s truly impressive that Jim Cummings successfully pulls from all these different threads weaving them into something that’s not only coherent but well-balanced in terms of its genre shifts. The Beta Test is yet another screwball blast, cementing him as arguably one of the brightest and most scathing dark comedy maestros working today.
Tickets can be purchased here
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com