By Josh Taylor
When we asked the director of Hulu’s new thriller JAGGED MIND, Kelley Kali, what makes the film’s blossoming romance interesting she said, “They're just trying to find love and that's it. Keeping humanity in perspective, it’s what we all go through and what it feels like on the first date.” That answer might make this film sound more like a romantic comedy than a thriller about time loops and manipulation, but JAGGED MIND is a film with romance at its core. Kali gave examples like “that newness, that first time you meet someone, that giddiness, and that little bubble in your tummy.” All of these things had to be showcased on screen multiple times as Billy (Maisie Richardson-Sellers, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) navigates memory loss while beginning a relationship with Alex (Shannon Woodward, Westworld). JAGGED MIND is the type of mystery thriller that gives its audience little pieces of information slowly. Like Looper or Memento, this is a movie that balances how much to share and how much to keep a mystery, a challenge Kali gladly took. “It's work and it, oftentimes, is in the edit. it's sitting and spending time in the edit because the movie you watch is not the way the script is written,” stated Kali.
While JAGGED MIND travels back and forth through time fairly often, keeping pace with the actors only added to the challenge as we see a relationship go from their first meeting through several relationship landmarks and into, well, you’ll have to watch and see for that. What makes this film work is it’s cast and the performances of Richardson-Sellers and Woodward. If keeping the timeline straight was one problem, another was convincing the audience that these two actors were in a relationship, at various stages, and in different scenarios. “I'm not the type of director that sticks to the script. I probably drive the writers crazy, but it's because I'm an actor myself,” exclaimed Kali. “I always allow improvisation as long as it's hitting the point of the scene. It makes the performances feel more natural.”
The setting plays a major part in the story as well. Taking place in Miami, with scenes in the Little Haiti district of the city, the backdrop of this story isn’t just beautiful but also allows for more mystery. Kali said, “The suggestion of Miami came up for logistics because it could still be grounded in reality with a belief of magic.” While Miami is a magical city with it’s own rich history, having scenes in Little Haiti and making reference to Haitian culture was something Kali knew a bit about as she had previously worked on a film in Haiti and just recently found out she herself is part Haitian. “We needed to be extremely respectful of the culture.” Kali continued, “I really pushed for some characters to speak Creole to have an homage to the community. It's like a little token for the Haitian community to see their culture on the screen.” While Haitian culture plays a role in JAGGED MIND, it’s suspenseful story is universally appealing. Hulu has been consistently putting out fantastic and underrated horror films in recent years and JAGGED MIND has the potential to be another great film as part of that collection.
JAGGED MIND starts streaming exclusively on Hulu on June 15th, 2023.