Princeton’s In The Mix Image

Princeton’s In The Mix

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | June 21, 2024

DANCES WITH FILMS 2024 REVIEW! The bars on the gilded cage turn out to be razor sharp in the sophisticated horror comedy short Princeton’s In The Mix, written and directed by Jonathan DiMaio. Teddy (Charlie Besso) is a private school student passionate about playing the piano. He practices so much that his mother, Beth (Heather Burns), worries he is neglecting his other studies, as his practice SAT scores are not high enough.

Beth commiserates with fellow wealthy parents Simon (Nate Duncan) and Jane (Syra McCarthy) about how difficult it is for their kids to get into the Ivy League ever since the Lori Loughlin college bribery scandal. Simon and Beth are convinced that finding a way to get extra time on the SAT for their kids is the best path forward. However, the doctors they are paying tens of thousands of dollars to for an ADHD diagnosis are holding off due to the current scrutiny in the admissions process.

That is when Jane shares her good news: while her son Gregory (Mikee Loria) was making online cooking videos, a knife accidentally went through his hand and cut a tendon. This got Gregory extra time on his SAT for being disabled. Jane gleefully reports that before the accident, Oberlin was going to be a stretch, but thanks to her son’s mutilation, Princeton’s in the mix. This gives Beth a great idea.

“…thanks to her son’s mutilation, Princeton’s in the mix.”

Princeton’s In The Mix scores high marks in several different directions. DiMaio’s first deft move opens with a visual mudslide of white linen elegance, punctuated by the tinkling piano music. This immediately shows a filmmaker who can utilize simple elements to elevate perceived production value. The overall look is noticeably polished and professional. This gauze of fanciness is pierced by Burns’ painstakingly perfect portrait of obsession run amok.

It is the exaggerated intensity of how crucial the SATs are in the film’s universe that nabs the attention, as well as drives the humor. That is when we find out that DiMaio can be very funny in a darkly satirical fashion, with a devastating commentary over the upper middle class’s fixation on college admissions. But, just like the stabbing man at the end of Scream said, that’s not all. DiMaio can also do horror, really well, as it turns out. The bloodcurdling finale has a relentless squirm factor that locks the short firmly in the horror genre. So, while DiMaio’s talent shines in so many areas, his work’s black fire of horror burns high. Princeton’s In The Mix is the kind of high-caliber calling card where the bloody edges cut deeper into your memory than usual.

Princeton’s In The Mix screened at the 2024 Dances With Films.

Princeton's In The Mix (2024)

Directed and Written: Jonathan DiMaio

Starring: Heather Burns, Charlie Besso, Nate Duncan, Syra McCarthy, Mikee Loria, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Princeton's In The Mix Image

"…very funny in a darkly satirical fashion..."

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