Many films benefit from a lack of production or budget. The Blair Witch Project (1999) is a fine example of how much you actually need to make a successful movie. The Mentor‘s plot may differ from the found-footage horror but still revolves around a similar group – irritatingly annoying young filmmakers.
We’re introduced to Nilah Williams first of all (Brandi Nicole Payne) who narrates her way through her knowledge of film. It’s disengaging and doesn’t really tell us much about her or even about the tone of the film – except that she likes Werner Herzog (or doesn’t like him).
Any point made in the film is trying to make a counteractive point. When Nilah meets and saves her idol Claire Adams (Liz Sklar) she hopes to use this life debt as leverage to further her own career. But other people are also aware of Adams’ budget superiority and they are both kidnapped by some young producers disguising themselves as Mr. Owl (Mike Bash), Mr. Emu (Santiago Rosas) and so on. It’s very clear that these lot don’t have a clue in what they’re doing but this was already made evident by the odd production choice and lack of stakes given by an actor’s expression at any given moment. It’s not doing much as a thriller or kidnapping piece but that may be because it’s a satirical look at film students and student films.
Quotes like “fuck colour correction” and “genre pieces are soul sucking” are exclaimed by the actors – and it may be a sense of mockery with these quotes but the film’s also lacking these key components which seems hypocritical to mock a very thing that it is doing itself.
But credit where credit’s due. Some of the establishing shots (obviously shot in a car) have a movement to them that is the only sense of real rhythm in the film. It may have been accidental but it was something that stood above the rest. But then Solis turns everything on its head in the final minutes – making you question whether everything that has been done up to this point has had a purpose.
Maybe the choppy editing, throw-away lines and low-budget practical effects were in themselves making a point about these types of films. But then the plot comes back around immediately questioning whether this is satire at all. Kidnapping or Anti-Kidnapping is the tagline, satirical or anti-satirical may be the theme. Heck, even anti anti-satirical could be the right answer. It’s a confusing piece of work that could be a hot mess or a complete disaster. The jury is still out.
Director: Moez Solis
Stars: Brandi Nicole Payne, Liz Sklar, Mike Bash, Michael James Kelly, Santiago Rosas, Julie Lockfield
Runtime: 74 minutes