"Strangers locked in a room and forced to kill each other" is nothing new when it comes to plot descriptions in the 21st century, but when you add a sort of Simon-esque electronic art direction and a democratically determined electro shock system, you've piqued my interest.
Circle has the vibe of a Twilight Zone episode crossed with Cube, and that's a very good thing. I was sold on the premise but following the decade-ago success of a little indie called Saw, there have been a LOT of cheaply made horror films marketed on the idea of "strangers locked up in a life or death situation together."
Let us all take a moment of silence to recall the horrors of watching Melissa Joan Hart attempt to act in the classically terrible Nine Dead.
This could easily have gone down the wrong path. Characters could have been overly shrill and simplistic, or blatantly irritating. Thankfully, Hann and Miscione are wise in balancing their rather massive cast effectively. Sure, we get a token white cop who's quick to judge anybody with dark skin and an obnoxiously corporate superman eager to exploit those around him. This isn't perfect filmmaking, but Hann and Miscione make up for the necessary lack of character development with a consistent and breezy pace. Those who enjoy a good thinker of a horror film will find plenty to enjoy.
The utter simplicity of Circle's production and sound design is pitch perfect. There are no fancy tricks or effects, just a dark room with very specific lighting and music cues. Considering we spend nearly 90 minutes in this one spot, it's a very strong feat
Two days after watching, I think it's safe to say I finally "get" the ending, but it's so subtly executed to the point that it makes the actual first-time watch rather unsatisfying in the immediate aftermath
When your life is essentially being determined by a popularity contest, it's probably not the best time to start practicing your non-ironic Donald Trump impersonation