Review by Cole Groth
Every year, we get a handful of terrible thrillers that weaponize an awful script to make an incredibly unsatisfying film viewing experience. So far, The Tutor is one of the worst. With decent production value and good acting, this film is nonetheless embarrassingly bad. If you hate watching movies and love feeling like garbage, you might enjoy watching this. For those who value their time, stay as far away from this film as possible.
The plot follows Ethan (Garrett Hedlund), a tutor with a mysterious past who becomes increasingly tangled with a strange student, Jackson (Noah Schnapp). His wife (Victoria Justice) is expecting a child, meaning that Ethan has to balance his work-home life as things get precarious. The story is fairly interesting for the first half. The mystery is palatable, and it helps that the performances are pretty stellar.
Unfortunately, a good idea doesn’t always translate to a good script. Ryan King’s script has decent dialogue, but where this film goes off the rails is… everywhere else. As Jackson becomes increasingly aggressive with Ethan, this film feels all too familiar to most other thrillers. Jackson is a total prick, ruining Ethan’s life for seemingly no reason. It’s frustrating to see another film about a creepy person ruining another person’s life, and I, quite frankly, don’t understand the appeal.
I won’t go into spoiler territory, but it needs to be prefaced that the ending of this film is one of the worst in years. Instead of developing the mystery that was happening in the first two acts, the script instead decides to derail Ethan’s character completely, making a 180° turn from the rest of the film. There’s no reason why one of these characters should go from utterly unlikable to the hero in the end. It’s so hilariously bad that one can only imagine that Ryan King was dared to ruin his otherwise decent script. If you put yourself through the enormous displeasure of seeing this in a theater, be prepared to roll your eyes while the credits roll.
For what it’s worth, Hedlund, Schnapp, and Justice are all excellent. If you can separate the horrendous story from their performances, they all show fantastic range. Hedlund is great as a mysterious protagonist, Schnapp is creepy as hell as a spoiled brat, and Justice perfectly plays the role of a confused soon-to-be mother. It’s a shame that so much of the cast and crew are locked behind King’s terrible script and director Jordan Ross’s terrible direction because the production as a whole is pretty professional.
Is The Tutor the worst film you could see in a theater when it releases? Almost certainly. Films this incredibly frustrating are hard to come by. Viewers will be tricked into thinking they’re watching a competent movie and blindsided by the atrocious series of events that unfolds in the last fifteen minutes. It’s disappointing that so many excellent writers go unnoticed by studios when scripts like this are being turned into films. You’d be better off sitting in a completely dark room for 92 minutes than you would be watching this garbage. Spare yourself the precious minutes you have — the only reason why you should watch this is if you hate yourself.
The Tutor releases in theaters starting March 24.