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Higher Methods

average rating is 4 out of 5

Critic:

Jason Knight

|

Posted on:

Apr 20, 2023

Film Reviews
Higher Methods
Directed by:
Nathan Suher
Written by:
Lenny Schwartz
Starring:
Michael Christoforo, Jamie Lyn Bagley, Aaron Andrade, Kayla Caulfield

A surreal and dark story about the mental torments of an actor who is looking for his missing sister.

 

Matt (Christoforo) has arrived in Los Angeles in search of his sister Katherine (Caulfield), who disappeared mysteriously after moving there in order to make it as an actress. His investigation eventually leads him to her former acting coach, John (Andrade), who proceeds to apply his extreme methods on Matt. As time goes by, Matt attempts to solve the mystery behind his sibling's disappearance, while trying to hold on to his sanity.

 

This is quite a tense and disturbing psychological horror feature that brings the audience into the mind of a troubled young man. The narrative bears similarities with films such as Black Swan and Whiplash, as it centres on a young artist who goes through devastating emotional torments, especially when interacting with a demanding tutor and the difference between reality and fantasy is almost non-existent. The screenplay is unconventional and it would be hard to say that there is a plot to follow. The majority of the story takes place on a small stage, where John, along with several trainee actors, viciously torments Matt with his harsh words, trying to expand his acting abilities and even gets physical. Aside from John, Matt meets a filmmaker who offers him a lead role in a movie and he develops a relationship with an actress named Shannon (Bagley). The screenplay constantly and unexpectedly moves from one scene to another and makes it hard to determine what is real and what is not, for instance, in some parts Christoforo's character has a different name and appears to be a patient in a mental institution.

 

Matt makes an interesting protagonist, a man descending into madness and whose life and identity seem to be a mystery and Christoforo plays him with tremendous energy. John could be described as the antagonist, a ruthless acting coach whose methods turn out to be sadistic and Matt falls victim to them. Andrade delivers a chilling performance as a brutal and seemingly deranged man and his scenes are the ones that stand out the most due to their tension and content.

 

Speaking of content, there are disturbing scenes that involve threats with knives and stabbings that sensitive viewers might find hard to watch.

 

There are creative lighting techniques that look great thanks to Ken Willinger's cinematography and editor Eileen Slavin does an effective job with fast cutting. Commendations also go to Indy Shome for the atmospheric, sinister and dynamic music.

 

This is not a pleasant viewing experience, rather, it is a dark, surreal and tense tale about mental health that contains threat, violence, drug use and a man who is losing his grip on reality and falls into the abyss. The scenes that include Christoforo and Andrade are the highlights of the feature and they both deliver strong performances. What is really going on might be up to the viewer to decide and it should be mentioned that the ending is not a big pay-off, however the atmosphere and tense scenes make this a memorable movie.

About the Film Critic
Jason Knight
Jason Knight
Indie Feature Film
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