Directed by Jordan Ross and written by Ryan King, follows a tutor who, after being assigned an unexpected task at a mansion, finds himself struggling with the obsessions of his student, who threatens to expose his darkest secrets. Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Noah Schnapp, Victoria Justice, Jonny Weston, Kabby Borders and Ekaterina Baker.
Straight away there’s a Stepford Wives, creepy and conspiracy-esque feel to The Tutor, it leads you down the road of knowing not all is right and makes you wait to find out why. Typically with this type of film you can find those that had a good concept but lose sight of it in the execution, in this case it feels like the concept itself was flawed.
Ryan King has created a story that feels as though it’s having to become a contortionist to make it work, it may be a logical path at its core but the emotions and turns it takes to get there don’t feel organic. It’s a classic case of twisting the plot and pacing to fit the ending that you want, but it ultimately falls flat because it doesn’t have the foundation to back it up.
It’s a shame as it does have some ingredients to make for a decent thriller, if it had a few extra layers or a more complex emotion at its fingertips then the end result would be much different. Its key problem with believability is its characters, they’re all pushing too hard. Especially Victoria Justice’s Annie, you could blame it all on pregnancy but she is flip-flopping all over the place. It’s hard to actually judge the performance when Annie’s perspective and opinions are constantly changing teams, it undermines the value she could have added.
With the exception of a poorly constructed hairstyle which convinces no-one that he’s older than he is, Garrett Hedlund’s performance is actually solid for about ninety percent of the film. However, when things take a turn for the darker, intense side, the portrayal completely falls apart and loses all ounce of being convincing. While Noah Schnapp feels overly consistent, he knocks the creepy, disturbing kid vibes out of the park but when his character needs to evolve emotionally, it’s not really there.
Jordan Ross’ directorial style feels almost reminiscent of Murder by Numbers, especially alongside the story taking on the themes of privilege and wealth. It builds tension and suspense but never becomes too serious, creating a game of cat and mouse. Ross leans into the intensity, trying to add some darkness into the mix. It’s solid work throughout the entire film and it would be showcased more if the story had the skills to back it up.
The Tutor attempts to create a creepy, vengeful and haunting thriller, pitting student against tutor in an intense power struggle, but it just doesn’t come together. It does feel as though if the ingredients were put together in a different way then it would work, it had potential but this recipe falls flat. The performances are hit and miss, the writing feels forced but the direction is actually the one element which consistently builds atmosphere. There’s something to it that fans of Garrett Hedlund, Noah Schnapp and Victoria Justice will likely enjoy, but for more avid thriller and mystery fans, this one might not hit the spot.