Circle movie review - Aussieboyreviews


From the very beginning to the final shot, Circle is a thrilling, captivating and highly entertaining psychological thriller about human nature. Despite flaws around the wheel, this low-budget movie is written, acted and directed intelligently.


Fifty strangers held captive in a circle and under the threat of execution are forced to pick one person among them who deserves to live.

Movie Images

Movie details

Director: Aaron Hann, Mario Miscione
Cast: Michael Nardelli, Allegra Masters, Mercy Malick, Lawrence Kao, Daniel Lench, Jordi Vilasuso, Carter Jenkins, Julie Benz, Sara Sanderson
Writer: Aaron Hann, Mario Miscione
Release Date (Australia): 16 October 2015
Runtime: 87 minutes/1h 27m
Genre: Thriller, Sci-Fi, Horror
Country: USA
Language: English, Spanish

CONTENT GUIDE (warning: May contain spoilers)

Themes (M)

The film centres on fifty strangers being held captive under the threat of execution, and contains thematic material relating to science fiction themes, racism, homophobia, self-sacrifice and frequent deaths by execution.

Violence (M)

The film features frequent, occasionally implied deaths by execution, in which people are killed by a high-voltage electrocution. There is also a brief depiction of a woman bleeding from her eyes.

Coarse Language (M)

The film features use of the word “f**k”, as well as use of the words “s**t”, “bitch” and “**shole”.

Drug Use (PG)

The film contains verbal references to heroin addiction.

Sex (PG)

The film contains multiple verbal references to pornography.

mpaa rating

NR (Not Rated)

Aussie boy's thoughts

Circle is an 87-minute observation of fifty strangers forced to vote off one person every few minutes, requiring them to decide on the one person who deserves to live. Despite being guilty of a number of shortfalls in major aspects such as writing, acting, cinematography and editing, this is an enthralling, entertaining and thought-provoking psychological thriller with deeper themes relating to human nature. The budget is low enough that the movie feels like something that fifty unknown actors and a film crew would team up to construct, but it’s still a very effective thriller and it’s worth your energy.

Firstly, the concept is very intriguing; fifty strangers awaken to find themselves in a darkened room, standing in two large inner and outer circles around a dome that becomes apparent to behold an electrical current. This electrical beam fatally shocks anyone who steps outside of their circle or receives the most votes from everyone else. Where the science fiction genre steps in is when the strangers discuss the fact that this situation is the result of alien activity, providing brief descriptions of the aliens and what they witnessed before waking up in this dark area. Don’t worry however, the clichéd alien stuff doesn’t play too much of a role in the film’s plot. It’s mainly a psychological drama due to its examination of human nature, desperation and survival.

All of the film’s strengths are able to overshadow the many flaws. Every line of dialogue is elevated by very strong performances by cast members ranging from young to old; most of these unfamiliar actors deliver their characters wonderfully. If you’re a sucker for visuals, the film is also nice and fairly clean to look at, regardless of some uneven lighting. In terms of pacing, the conversations between these strangers are always moving forward in one way or another. And with at least one death every two minutes, you get the idea that there’s very little time for goofing. There’s also plenty of surprises concerning character development and who continues in the game can be unpredictable, even though the ending feels pretty rushed.

Unfortunately however, imperfections still roughen some of the edges. The first few minutes feels like a big exposition dump as these people quickly figure out and explain to each other the circumstances, before the real “game” begins. Yes, there’s already exposition very early on. In addition, there’s also plenty of dumb decisions made by the characters, sometimes by everyone in the group. In one scene, they all seem to be naive enough to trust each other in making a certain vote amongst each other. But you need to forgive the film’s flaws to enjoy Circle for what it is; if you’re seeking a flawless masterpiece, just leave this one alone for now. It’s just an example of some lack of creativity in the writing. However, it’s made up for by the excellent dialogue and chatter between the strangers, to the point where at times, it almost feels improvised and unscripted.

But even with the film’s intelligent points and clever ideas, it’s still a low-budget film with issues in the editing, cuts and special effects. Most of the special effects play a role in the fact that there are many electrocution deaths, both on and offscreen. When a stranger being electrocuted by this dome is onscreen, the special effect is nothing to praise. It’s not laughable, but it’s nowhere near great either. However, the onscreen execution is much more preferable when you compare it to the offscreen executions, and there’s a lot of them. As the camera focuses on other characters, you’ll see a flash accompanied by the sound of a body lumping on the floor. Even if the camera focuses on and explicitly implies who is about to fall, it’s often confusing and still doesn’t feel right. The filmmakers obviously want to hide the poor effects, but it’s much more reassuring when they’re shown and not panned away from. Besides these mentioned issues and a few cuts that are a little off, Circle is a very recommendable and enjoyable psychological thriller.

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