Thursday, March 24, 2016

What's On Netflix?: CIRCLE

Welcome to another installment of What's On Netflix?, where we pick out a film currently playing on Netflix and review it for the fans.  This week's choice is the psychological sci-fi thriller...CIRCLE.
Circle tells the story of a group of fifty people who wake up in a strange, darkened room.  They are arranged in two concentric circles around a mysterious black dome.  Any attempt to touch another person or leave the circle results in an alarm going off, and if ignored, a deadly beam shoots out from the dome, killing that person.  Once everyone is awake, they discover that every two minutes, the dome kills another person, and that they control who lives and who dies, but only one can survive the circle.

This is the feature film writing/directorial debut for both Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione, who previously worked together on the amazing web series The Vault.  What they were able to do in a single room, with a group of people all standing in one place for the entire film, was impressive.  The script, which was inspired by the 1957 film 12 Angry Men, was very dialogue-driven, yet Hann and Miscione were able to keep the tension and suspense high throughout most of it.  They were able to keep it about the ensemble and never allowed it to focus to heavily on just one character, which I really liked.

There were a few actors I recognized from other projects, but only one that I knew by name, and that was Julie Benz (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Defiance).  I love her as an actress, and her performance was good, but she didn't really stand out in this, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  There were some pretty memorable performances from the group though, including Jordi Vilasuso (as The Soldier), Lawrence Kao (as The Asian Kid), Daniel Lench (as The Rich Man), and Coley Speaks (as The African American Man).

Circle was very reminiscent of a Twilight Zone-type of story, keeping you on your toes, always wondering what is really going on.  It dealt with deep societal topics such as gender, race, sexuality, politics, and religion, while also tackling questions like "Who deserves to live and die?", "What makes someone a 'bad person'?", "Would you give up your life for a complete stranger?", and "What lengths would you go to just to survive?".

There are some slow spots in the film, which isn't surprising, but it never caused me to lose interest at any point.  Sometimes it was easy to tell who was next, and even satisfying at times, but they managed to keep surprising me throughout, especially with the ending.  Seeing what people will do to survive, and how their true colors emerge in a situation like this is eye-opening to the problems our society has as a whole, because if this were to actually take place, I have no doubt it would unfold in a very similar fashion.

If you're looking for something that'll keep you on your toes and make you think, I would highly recommend checking out this film.

The Merc's Score:  7.5/10

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