Synopsis: Could you trust a jury of your peers with your life? The contestants of a mysterious death game must make harrowing decisions as they strategize for survival in this psychological sci-fi thriller.
Stars: Michael Nardelli, Allegra Masters, Molly Jackson, Jordi Vilasuso, Rene Heger, Julie Benz, Lisa Pelikan, Matt Corboy
Director: Aaron Hann, Mario Miscione
Running Length: 87 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: Ready for a bit of fun? Circle is another of those neat-o finds on Netflix that intrigued me enough to add it to my queue and fire it up on a rainy day. It’s a risky endeavor setting your entire film in one room with an ever-dwindling cast of unfamiliar faces but writer/directors Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione go all in and wind up with a surprising and surprisingly entertaining little thriller that feels like an extended episode of Night Gallery, The Twilight Zone, or The Outer Limits.
Fifty seemingly unconnected strangers wake up in a strange room positioned in a circle with several rows. Why they are there or how they got there no one can say but this room has secrets that are revealed slowly throughout the movie. The room also has a set of rules the group needs to figure out before time runs out. Step outside of the circle, you die. Stand still where you are, you may die.
Every few minutes a warning signal is sounded, alerting the group that another of them is about to lose the game and their life. After the first few people meet their untimely ends, the crowd starts to slowly figure out how each victim is selected and it soon becomes a game of survival as they have to decide collectively who is worthy to live another round and who should be sacrificed for the good of the group.
What keeps Circle so watchable is the unknown. Since the cast is comprised almost entirely of unknowns (save for a few character actors) you never know who is going to make it from round to round. Just when you think a hero or heroine has emerged, the film switches things up and what you thought was happening turns out to be false. In other movies, this trickery would be unforgivable but in the context of the game at the center of Circle, it makes for fascinating viewing. Amazingly, Hann and Miscione even manage to stick the ending, bringing the film to a satisfying conclusion.
Simple in construct but complex in execution (pardon the pun), Circle can be seen as a bit of a social experiment. Will the people deemed “worthy” be saved by those that society may turn its back on? Will the strong survive or will they be the first to go? How about young vs. old? Male vs female? The rules remain the same but the contestants are the ones that keep changing the game. And you won’t be able to change the channel. Circle is a good choice for those that like to keep guessing at the outcome and don’t mind being wrong.