The Beta Test

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The Beta Test
The Beta Test teaser poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Written by
  • Jim Cummings
  • PJ McCabe
Produced by
  • Natalie Metzger
  • Matt Miller
  • Benjamin Wiessner
  • Jim Cummings
  • PJ McCabe
  • Virginia Newcomb
  • Jessie Barr
CinematographyKenneth Wales
Edited byJim Cummings
Music byJeffrey Campbell Binner
  • Vanishing Angle
  • DiffeRant Productions
  • Sons of Rigor Films
Distributed byIFC Films
Release dates
  • March 1, 2021 (2021-03-01) (Berlinale)
  • November 5, 2021 (2021-11-05) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
Box office$37,539[2][3]

The Beta Test is a 2021 dark comedy thriller film written and directed by Jim Cummings and PJ McCabe.[4] It follows a talent agent whose life is turned upside-down after taking part in a secret sex pact; Cummings and McCabe star alongside Virginia Newcomb and Jessie Barr.

The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on March 1, 2021 and was released in the United States on November 5, 2021. It received positive reviews from critics.


In a prologue scene, a woman calls the police to report a domestic dispute before confessing to her husband that she recently received a letter inviting her to an anonymous sexual encounter in a hotel room; she went through with the offer and realized she's no longer happy in her marriage. The husband, incensed, stabs her twice before throwing her to her death from their apartment balcony.

Jordan Hines (Jim Cummings) is a Hollywood agent who works for a talent agency, APE. Although six weeks away from his planned marriage to his fiancée, Caroline Gates (Virginia Newcomb), he constantly finds himself distracted by attractive women. One day, he receives a purple envelope with an invitation from an anonymous admirer to a no-strings-attached intimate encounter at the Royal Hotel and a form for him to fill out his sexual interests. Although he dumps the letter in the trash, thoughts of the invitation dominate his mind for the remainder of the day and while sleeping. The following day at work, Jordan fills out the invitation and sends it off. While meeting with a potential Chinese client who later berates him for his agency's practices being obsolete, Jordan receives a second purple envelope with a hotel room keycard. Worried about his job, Jordan goes to the hotel room, puts on a blindfold, and has sex with an anonymous woman who is also blindfolded. He receives a burst of confidence after the encounter, but soon becomes paranoid that someone else knows what he's done.

As Jordan obsessively investigates the source of the anonymous invitation and the identity of the woman he slept with, his Chinese client is revealed to have accepted a similar invitation and had sex with another man; the client's wife shoots and kills him, and his anonymous partner's wife poisons him as well. As Jordan investigates and hears about the two murders, as well as the murder from the beginning of the film, he encounters a delivery person whose bag is filled with anonymous letters in purple envelopes who tells him the person who operated the app he works for most likely sent the invitations. He investigates one of the addresses and finds the recipient is dead. Jordan's friend PJ theorizes that someone with access to people's social media data, such as recent engagements and having liked photos of people they're attracted to, may have found the addresses of people who fit the right demographic and sent them letters to connect them for anonymous sex; he suggests it would be inexpensive and very lucrative to set up.

Jordan and his fiancee, having drifted apart as he becomes obsessed with his secret, go to a cabin in the woods for a weekend to reconnect and have sex after arguing and reconciling. However, Jordan recognizes the woman he slept with in a wedding planning office, but despite his pressure, she does not reveal her name and claims not to recognize him. Jordan resumes his investigation and, impersonating a federal agent, investigates a print press that printed the purple envelopes. The owner, Michael, tells Jordan about a bulk order for the envelopes three months ago, and Jordan reverse-searches the name of the individual to find his address.

Jordan attacks and confronts the individual behind the letters, Johnny, who confesses to sending them based on addresses from The Sony Hacks and further social media scrubbing. Johnny realizes that Jordan never received the third letter, which would have asked for $5,000 in an anonymous wire transfer in exchange for the identity of the woman he had sex with. He mocks a now-shaken Jordan for being a nobody and being suckered into cheating on his wife, and Jordan leaves.

Caroline catches Jordan burning the evidence of his encounter in their parking garage while holding a pair of scissors. Jordan breaks down and confesses not only to sleeping with another anonymous woman, but drinking, smoking, and living a lie. He accepts that Caroline is going to kill him, but she instead forgives him, silently revealing that she also received a purple letter and had sex with an anonymous partner.

Jordan and Caroline decide to take time off and work things out between them away from home. The couple then go to a diner near the border, where Caroline holds her belly for a moment, suggesting that she is pregnant (with Jordan’s child or someone else's), and also reads news that eight more people have been killed as a result of confessing their indiscretions with the purple envelopes. As the couple leaves, a waitress pens down her number on the bill and hands it to Jordan.


  • Jim Cummings as Jordan Hines
  • Virginia Newcomb as Caroline Gates
  • PJ McCabe as PJ
  • Jessie Barr as Lauren
  • Kevin Changaris
  • Olivia Grace Applegate
  • Christian Hillborg
  • Malin Barr as Annie
  • Jacqueline Doke as Jaclyn
  • Wilky Lau as Raymond Lee


Filming wrapped in December 2019 and post-production was done remotely throughout 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[5]


The film premiered at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival. IFC Films acquired U.S. distribution rights in March 2021 and set it for a November 5, 2021 wide release in the United States.[6] It had its North American premiere at the 20th Tribeca Film Festival on June 11, 2021, in the Viewpoints section.[7]

It was invited to screen at the 25th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, in July 2021, competing in Bucheon Choice Features section.[8]


On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 80 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The site's critics' consensus reads: "A darkly amusing thriller that discomfits as it entertains, The Beta Test satirizes Hollywood with savage flair."[9] According to Metacritic, which sampled 18 critics and calculated a weighted average score of 72 out of 100, the film received "generally favorable reviews".[10]

Owen Gleiberman of Variety wrote that "The film's elements don't mesh as seamlessly as they should have", and added that the film "is almost too ambitious, tucking a surfeit of ideas into its heightened surrealist mindscape. Yet the movie, at its best, can hold you in its grip."[11]


  1. ^ "The Beta Test (2021) – Review: Jim Cummings and PJ McCabe Have Crafted an Excellent Stress Comedy". October 23, 2021.
  2. ^ "The Beta Test (2021)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
  3. ^ "The Beta Test (2021)". The Numbers. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
  4. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (24 June 2020). "Vanishing Angle Sets Jim Cummings Thriller 'The Beta Test' as Next Film (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  5. ^ Miska, Brad (24 June 2020). "Real-Life Hollywood Battle Turns to Horror in 'The Beta Test'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  6. ^ Lang, Brent (22 March 2021). "IFC Films Buys Jim Cummings Thriller 'The Beta Test' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  7. ^ "The Beta Test | 2021 Tribeca Festival".
  8. ^ "Bucheon Choice: Feature". Bifan. July 9, 2021. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  9. ^ "The Beta Test (2021)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 5, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "The Beta Test Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  11. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (6 March 2021). "'The Beta Test' Review: Jim Cummings Rivets as a Hollywood Agent in a Twilight Zone of Temptation". Variety. Retrieved 7 March 2021.

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