Now you need a greencard to be abducted?
Year Released : 2015
Director : Aaron Han and Mario Miscione
Cast : Allegra Masters, Carter Jenkins, Kaiwi Lyman, Michael McLafferty, Zachary Rukavina, Matt Corboy, Julie Benz, Jordi Vilasuso, Lawrence Kao and Rene Heger
If there’s one thing that Hollywood is missing these days it is original ideas. Very few films come out that are truly original. At the time of writing I have seen 40 films at the cinema in 2015, comfortably a personal best for me, and yet how many of those have been original, as in not reminding me slightly of anything else? None is the answer.
I have struggled in recent weeks to find a film that I want to review, but as soon as I saw the synopsis for Circle, as well as the trailer, I knew it would be the one as it looked like a remarkably original film. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen films in which people can vote for who will get killed, but nothing quite like this.
50 strangers wake up in a room having no memory of how they got there. They are in the circular formation with an object in the middle. The people can’t move off of their assigned circle and those that do try to move are killed instantly. After a few minutes the object starts shooting electricity at people randomly, but one of the group realises that they are infact voting for each other with their movements.
The group starts to slowly realise that it’s kill or be killed and various people emerge as potential leaders or moral guides, but are then killed off when people gang up on them for trying to vote based on age, race, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, morals, etc. The group continues to vote before they begin to realise that ultimately the choice will come down to save a 10 year old girl (Molly Jackson) and a pregnant woman (Masters).
As time goes on and more of the surviving members are killed, the group starts to focus less on a individual issues, but instead on the one major issue of knowing that unless they kill one of either of the aforementioned, they will all die in vain as ultimately one of the two will have to die anyway. This starts mass arguments and voting swings as people on both sides of the argument seemingly get the upper hand.
Who will end up as the sole survivor?
As original as I’d hoped?
I will start by saying this, with these types of film it is so easy to get wrong. If you don’t get your characters just right, or make the audience care about your characters, then you are never going to create a good film and ultimately it will just be 90 or so minutes of the viewer’s life that you’ve wasted. You need to make the situations genuine, suspenseful, engaging and arguably the most important, entertaining. It also helps if it is original.
Unfortunately not a lot of films manage any of that, but all of that being said, Circle is one of the best thrillers that I have ever seen.
Circle is exceptionally original and whilst it has a similar sort of look to Cube, it’s entirely it’s own film and I loved it. For 90 minutes I was just wanting more…and more….and more, and the end result left me so happy that I couldn’t wait to come on and review this for you all.
The characters are perfect. You’ve got a group filled with 50 very unique individuals, and whilst a lot of them have similar morals and beliefs, they all have differing opinions on a lot of subjects and none of the characters share a particular set of traits. This is important as the film goes on as alliances are formed, only for the same characters to then set about trying to kill each other later on in the film, and vice versa. The issues of morality are addressed perfectly in this film and I’ve never seen a film deal with so many themes in my life.
What starts off as a seemingly generic thriller film, turns into something of a Darwinian experience as it’s the survival of the fittest, even though no-one really has control over their own fate, as evidenced later on in the film. Themes and arguments about race, age, homophobia, the class system, religion and so many other similar issues are address during the course of the film and whilst some of the deaths become predictable as a cop responds to a black man’s complaints about racial discrimination with a vile tirade about how America should only be for Americans, therefore being chosen to die next, it just shows how easily your opinion can sway.
I personally loved that at no point during the film does a single character feel genuinely safe. There are probably six or seven different characters who try and take control at one point or another, but you’re never sure how long they’re going to last and this makes it interesting. In the trailers it makes you believe that the guy at the beginning will be the lead male, and the woman is the lead female, whereas in reality both die within minutes.
There is one character who tries to encourage everyone to kill off the eldest members of the group to buy those who “aren’t close to death” (his words) more time to try and live. At first his plan works before the others turn against him for being immoral, and it just shows that things can change so quickly. Whilst I sort of knew the pregnant woman and the girl (who is pretty much the only poor character as she offers pretty much nothing to the entire film and only has two lines, spending the rest of it sobbing) would survive near enough to the final few, I couldn’t have predicted some of the others that make it to the final ten.
That was the brilliance about this. You’re never entirely sure. Characters can seem important before being killed off suddenly, whereas several characters almost blend into the background until there are so few left that you’re like “who the hell is that?”. But for me the biggest factor in terms of the characters and how they were written is that there isn’t a clear, definable main character at all in the entire run time. This means that you become passionate about each character and you find yourself becoming emotionally invested in them.
Away from the characters, plot and theme, Circle is pretty basic visually, with just a single set used for all but the final two or so minutes of the 86 minute run time, but you don’t need anything more than the basic set for the story, and it’s simplicity in that sense is appropriate.
There isn’t a soundtrack of any variety and the simple reason for this is that one isn’t needed, the dialogue keeps the film going without any need for any music to try and make time pass, afterall, why would you need it in a film that seems to run in real time?
One of the easier approved stamps that I have ever given and the main reason is because the film, despite having since a relatively simple premise, covers so many aspects of life that you can’t help but become engrossed in the psychology of everything.
The film offers a brilliant and insightful look into how people think and constantly surprises you. Characters that you think are going to be a major part of the story are then killed off seconds later, and this means that the lack of a central character actually works in this sense.
I would definitely recommend Circle. It’s one of the best low-budget thrillers that I have ever seen.