‘Circle’ Offers No Surprises or Excitement


There are a lot of horror movies available this month on Netflix, ripe for marathon sessions for this Halloween weekend.  Because of my enjoyment for this particular holiday, I’ve been trying to work in at least one scary movie every day.  With plenty of slasher films like Curse of Chucky and Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (are all serial killers cursed?) ready to stream now, I thought I’d try to find something a little different when I noticed Circle.

Labelled as a psychological horror, I found the premise of Circle to be very intriguing.  A large group of apparent strangers find themselves trapped in an unknown room, all standing in a giant circle.  They quickly discover that each of them are to be executed in intervals, and when it’s realized that they can vote on who the next victim is going to be, they must work together to decide who should be spared.

I’m a big fan of the concept of people who seemingly don’t know one another all waking up trapped somewhere together, forced to rely on each other to make sense of it all.  The first couple of Saw films touched on this, and the premise is also very similar to that of an indie movie I really enjoyed called Cube.  It can be pretty exciting not knowing what in the hell is going on, beyond just trying to survive.  I had hoped to achieve similar results with Circle, staying optimistic that I’d be taken on an emotional roller coaster as survivors struggled to figure out who to save.

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Unfortunately, Circle was no roller coaster.  It was more like a quaint drive on a long, straight road in a golf cart.  It was a movie that gently took me straight from point A to point B, with no highs or lows along the way.  I found that I made it to the end only by waiting for something exciting to happen, which was a moment that just would not come.

The majority of the characters involved are not very likable.  Perhaps that was due to starting with so many people and offing them quickly enough so as not to develop any of them.  Obviously, there was at least one person dying every couple of minutes, but it’s not a good sign that I didn’t feel bad for any of them.  I also felt that nobody was really struggling that hard with choosing who the next to die will be, so I didn’t feel anybody’s fear or frustration with what was happening.

Most disappointingly, however, was the ending.  With not even the slightest hint of a twist, the climax of the film was just confirming what the characters had been theorizing throughout the movie (as well as my initial impression from just watching the first two minutes).  Predicting a film’s exact outcome after it’s hardly even started is never a good thing, because then you’re just spending an hour and a half hoping for a surprise that never comes.  I won’t go into further detail than that so as to avoid spoilers, but I feel that I must at least warn that it’s a bit of a letdown.

Circle hooked me in with an interesting concept with intriguing visuals.  Channeling my love for Cube, I thought maybe I’d have a great, new psychological horror to enjoy.  By the end of the flick, though, I was wishing that I had just turned on Tremors 5: Bloodlines instead.

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