Since the introduction of the Saw series to the horror genre more and more the trend is to go as gory as possible, and make the traps as intricate as possible as well. It is, in a sense, a cold war of splatter–sort of. It’s unto this arena that Circle (2015) enters the fray. Now the challenges that are inherent with having a film be a completely one set piece are enormous–with varying degrees of success (Reservoir Dogs and Cube coming to mind).
Circle is a gore based horror film
The premise is straightforward: fifty people have been randomly chosen and placed into a circular room in two circles around the room. Every two minutes, one of them is killed. If an attempt to escape is made, that person is killed. As time goes on, the remaining people begin to deduce that they can have an impact on who is selected to die next. Obviously, this has a HUGE influence on the dynamic in the room and amongst the survivors. If none votes, someone is chosen randomly–so there’s no saving grace there. People then begin to vote using their prejudices (racial or otherwise).
Throughout the process, it was not at all difficult to sympathize with the characters, even if one may not have cared about them a whole lot. There isn’t much time for character development, save for the ones that end up in the final rounds. It’s like the most divisive episode of The Voice, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, take your pick–well, except that there’s death involved. Considering the body count that mounts up, there’s little to no gore. The cause of death is discussed and shown, but that’s it and it’s a clever conceit (imagine the savings involved with budget on that story choice). Still, with all of this going on, and it being an imaginative story, Circle ultimately feels like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone with an M. Night Shyamalan twist at the end, which won’t be revealed here. It’s definitely A Decent Watch but only if the premise grabs you–otherwise, it would very likely be rated lower on the scale.