Test Pattern

Movie review by
Monique Jones, Common Sense Media
Test Pattern Movie Poster Image
Drama about sexual assault takes aim at health care system.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 82 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Helps demonstrate difference between consensual sex and rape. Promotes compassion and empathy for sexual assault victims who must suffer through toxic bureaucracy of health care system and police departments.

Positive Role Models

Evan and Renesha model a positive, loving relationship. Evan also models what a supportive boyfriend does during a time of tragedy and trauma. Nurse Peg is shown as a compassionate, empathetic member of the health care system who has victims' well-being at heart. Other health care workers are far less helpful and caring.

Violence

Scenes of rape and its tragic emotional aftermath. Shouting, yelling.

Sex

Scene of simulated sex. 

Language

Swear words like "ass," "f--k," "f--king," "f--ked," "hell," "a--hole." Exclamatory use of "God." Ableist terms like "stupid." Racist slur "Uncle Tom."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A woman is drugged by a man who ends up raping her. Mention of sobriety. Scenes of drinking and drug use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Test Pattern follows the horrors that a couple experiences as they try to track down a rape kit. The movie deals with sexual assault and the secondary trauma of trying to find justice while enduring the maddening red tape of the police and health care systems. It also directly addresses consent and sexually predatory behavior, giving parents who watch with their teens the opportunity to explain/discuss both. Strong language includes "ass," "f--k," "hell," "a--hole," and the racist slur "Uncle Tom." Characters drink at a bar and eat weed gummies, and women are drugged by men who've targeted them. A loving couple is intimate.

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What's the story?

Shatara Michelle Ford's TEST PATTERN is a searing look at how the powers that are supposed to protect sexual assault victims -- hospitals and police departments -- often fail at their jobs, leaving the traumatized to meander through the fallout alone. Brittany S. Hall and Will Brill star as loving couple Renesha and Evan, whose lives are changed when Renesha goes to a club with her friend Amber (Gail Bean). Renesha wakes up the next morning in a strange room with a man she met at the club and realizes that she was drugged -- and raped. Renesha and Evan do their best to retain the evidence of her assault by asking a hospital for a rape kit, but it turns out to be just the beginning of a long journey to several hospitals as they try to find a kit -- and pick up the pieces of a fracturing relationship. 

Is it any good?

This drama takes razor-sharp aim at the health care system and the police by putting their penchant for bureaucracy in full relief. Test Pattern doesn't shy away from showing how sexual assault can take its toll on even the strongest of relationships. It also doesn't mind telling the powers that be that their overreliance on red tape can cause further damage to already suffering victims. With beautiful acting, scenes filled with silent tension, and then slowly escalating depression and hopelessness, Test Pattern shows how much America's infrastructure must change to put victims first -- and perpetrators on notice. 

Hall and Brill expertly play Renesha and Evan, two people who meet by chance at a bar and end up falling in love. Their wonderful relationship gives viewers an anchor for what true love and consensual sex look like. And when Renesha is drugged by a stranger, Mike (Drew Fuller), at another bar, it makes the contrast even starker. Mike's pushiness, couched in "nice guy" behavior, plus Renesha's feeling pressured to say yes to his requests -- such as dancing, drinking, and eating a piece of weed gummy candy -- feels like it could have come straight out of Promising Young Woman, which also took aim at how toxic masculinity weaves its way into overt and subtle actions. Nurse Peg (Amani Starnes) shows how many people who work in the health care system do mean well and can be bright spots in an industry that still struggles with medical racism and sexism, in addition to crippling bureaucracy. But Nurse Peg's empathy for her patients sadly isn't enough to change the outcome of Renesha and Evan's predicament -- proving that good nurses and doctors also need a good support system to be able to better care for their patients, especially those victimized by sexual assault. The overarching lesson of Test Pattern is that a society that favors administrative nonsense over actual care is a society that's designed to let attackers escape justice.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about consent. What is consent? What actions define consent? What actions define nonconsensual situations -- i.e., rape and assault?

  • How does bureaucratic red tape hurt victims of sexual assault? How can law enforcement and health care systems better help victims?

  • How does Test Pattern compare to other movies you've seen that address the difficult topics of rape and its aftermath?

  • What defines a healthy relationship? What defines an uhealthy relationship? How are both demonstrated in this film?

Movie details

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