Minor Premise is a 2020 science-fiction psychological thriller directed by Eric Schultz, and this is his first full-length feature film based on his short film. The story is centred on a scientist who wants to surpass his father’s achievements in neuroscience. He puts himself through a process that aims to amplify his intellectual capabilities, but instead, it ruptures his mind into multiple fragments. The cast has Sathya Sridharan and Paton Ashbrook in the leading role. Do give the film a watch before reading further. Here’s the plot and ending of the movie Minor Premise explained; spoilers ahead.
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Where To Watch?
To find where to stream any movie or series based on your country, use This Is Barry’s Where To Watch.
Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answer. You can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.
Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:
Minor Premise: Plot Explained
Let’s take it from the top.
What’s the backstory of Ethan and his father?
Ethan’s father was a genius and worked on cutting-edge technology that mapped neuropathways to extract memories. This is the R9-X machine that is referred to in the movie. He eventually falls sick. While Ethan felt that his father was not appreciative enough, it appears Ethan had his own trust issues and misinterpreted many things straining his relationship with his father. He eventually witnesses his father passing away, an it leaves him with remorse.
So as the film begins, we’re shown that Ethan has tried to use the machine to erase memories of his father, at least the bad ones. Ethan is left with pockets of missing memories and has frequent blackouts. Ethan also is hell-bent on outdoing his father’s work to prove that he’s his own man.
Where did the diary come from?
Ethan’s father gave him the diary with a lot of his work and theories. At the time of receiving it, Ethan puts it away with a bunch of his other things and forgets about it. Eventually, he finds it and begins reading it, but his memory lapses make him forget that he took the diary out from storage. The scene where he calls his mother to check about the book is to give us a sense of how Ethan’s memories are disjoined.
Who is Alli? What’s her history with Ethan?
Alli and Ethan were a couple, but his trust issues eventually pushed Alli away. Though Ethan took his father’s machine to completion, the board does not want to give him credit as that is the initial agreement; the ownership is finally the university’s. Because of Ethan’s erratic behaviour, the committee asks Alli to take over the project and move it forward.
What does the machine do?
The original R9-X mapped neuropathways to extract memories. Ethan has been working on associating emotions with those memories to isolate and alter a person’s mental construct. For example, increasing one’s intelligence or erasing a veteran’s PTSD. But we all know this kind of meddling will never end well, do they?
What does Ethan do to himself?
Locating a formula in his father’s diary, Ethan uses it to isolate and amplify his core intellect for a period of 60 minutes. But the attempt fails – Ethan’s mind gets split into ten sections, and each one occupies 1/10th of the hour, i.e. 6 minutes. It’s effectively like DID with eight independent personas going in circles with each taking control for 6 minutes. Here’s the break-down of the sections in order of their occurrence:
- Section 0 (0min – 6min) – The Entire Ethan (All sections active)
- Section 1 (6min – 12min) – Anxiety
- Section 2 (12min – 18min) – Anger
- Section 3 (18min – 24min) – Libido
- Section 4 (24min – 30min) – Unconscious (All sections inactive)
- Section 5 (30min – 36min) – Intellect
- Section 6 (36min – 42min) – Primitive
- Section 7 (42min – 48min) – Creative
- Section 8 (48min – 54min) – Psychotic
- Section 9 (54min – 60min) – Euphoria
Intellect-Ethan and Ethan work together to try and solve the situation to put all the sections back together. Psychotic-Ethan, however, tries to map himself across the consciousness. The funny thing is that Ethan knows Psychotic-Ethan will attempt this, yet he or Alli don’t do anything to prevent it. Wouldn’t it have been easier if Alli simply locked Ethan in a room when the other sections were active and let him out only when his entire self took control? I’m sure Intellect-Ethan would have agreed with the approach.
Who is Malcolm? What are they doing to him?
Malcolm is the one who is responsible for the success of the project. It is he who gets the board to agree to get Ethan on the project to finish what his dad started. Ethan is not very appreciative and finds Malcolm too patronizing. Thanks to Ethan’s split-mind condition, he misses the grant-renewal meeting. Malcolm goes to meet him and ends up interacting with Psychotic-Ethan, who drugs Malcolm and takes him prisoner.
Eventually, Intellect-Ethan and Alli both learn about Malcolm, and they plan to keep him sedated and finally wipe his memories of the entire day. Oddly, they kept putting this away for later; they could have wiped Malcolm’s memories of the day and taken him out of the equation immediately. Instead, they keep it a secret from Ethan until he finds out and has his emotional outburst. Anywho, Malcolm’s memories of his kidnapping are erased successfully despite a coolant leak, and he’s dropped back home.
How do Alli and Ethan solve the problem?
Psychotic-Ethan sabotages the work by stealing the pages from the diary. Yeah, about that, why would you leave the journal lying around for the other sections to find it?
Luckily, the drawings that the Creative-Ethan has been making turn out to be a message to Ethan about the day he came up with the correct equation just before he blacked out. The symbol in the drawings is the shadow his window created on the wall, which Ethan uses to recollect the misplaced memory of where he put the formula.
Over the cycles, Ethan is able to push through and occupy 12 minutes instead of 6. However, from a video recording, Ethan realizes that Psychotic-Ethan has also pushed through and currently occupies the final 12 minutes of each cycle.
Just as they plan to use the correct formula and restore Ethan across his consciousness, Psychotic-Ethan tries to trick Alli and steal the formula from her. Observing the lit cigarettes, Alli quickly realizes that she’s talking with Psychotic-Ethan and knocks him unconscious. She preps the machine hoping she can keep Psychotic-Ethan locked out until Ethan takes control. Alli rolls back the clock by a few minutes. Psychotic-Ethan enters the room and proceeds to sit in the machine. He doesn’t rush as the clock tells him that he still has 3 minutes although he has only 1 minute. Alli distracts him in the final minute by kissing him and Psychotic-Ethan fades out, and Ethan takes control. Alli immediately triggers the machine to restore Ethan across his consciousness… or so she thinks.
Minor Premise: Ending Explained
The ending of the movie Minor Premise shows Ethan smoking which reveals that Psychotic-Ethan was restored across the consciousness, and he’s been acting like Ethan. The peculiar aspect of Psychotic-Ethan was that he was the only one that picked up Ethan’s old smoking habit.
We know that Psychotic-Ethan was able to push through to be active for 12 minutes in the final portion of the cycle. It appears that in the end, Psychotic-Ethan was able to push through into the time frame where Ethan is active. In the machine, when Psychotic-Evan loses control and wakes up to call out to Alli, she assumes that Ethan is back. She does nothing to confirm this, and we now know that Psychotic-Ethan was acting.
The next day, Psychotic-Ethan tells Alli should take over the project and offers to step down. The film doesn’t give a lot of insight into what his grand plan is. Perhaps he’s simply winning Alli’s trust to make her believe that Ethan is back in full and repents for his past behaviour. What is Psychotic-Ethan capable of? Well, that’s the weak link in the film; we don’t know. But if I were to guess, it looks like when the Psychotic section of even a scientist’s mind is isolated, he doesn’t hesitate to harm a person for his own gains. Ethan’s fights with his dad were always about “ownership” of this machine’s IP (Intellectual Property). It looks like Psychotic-Ethan will go to any extent to acquire that IP.
That’s all I’ve got folks. What did you think of the plot and ending of Minor Premise? Drop a comment with your thoughts.
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