Circle (2015) Poster

(II) (2015)

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TheEtherWalk8 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Fifty people wake up in a room, trapped standing on circles on the ground while an orb picks them off one by one. Soon they realize that they can vote for who dies next and a vicious power struggle for survival takes place in which only one person can come out alive, if anyone makes it out at all.

At first glance this film seems like pretty typical Saw-esque horror fare, characters drop one by one as they try to solve their predicament in seemingly logical and ethical ways. But where a lot of those films suffer from 'torture porn' syndrome, IE making entertainment out of cruel and inhuman grotesqueries and human suffering, Circle probes a little bit deeper and doesn't make the constant deaths, though occasionally amusing, the focal point of interest. The deaths are all clean and it never becomes sadistic or sickening, which I appreciate. I think that this film has a lot to say and it gets its points across in a mind-blowing fashion in my opinion. Once the characters figure out what is going on in the room, they all try different tactics to stay alive and to present their ethical ideas to the rest of the group. Prejudices emerge. They could easily feel clichéd but they don't, and one reason for this is that the film feels allegorical in its denouement. It would seem unlikely that so many people from seemingly every different walk of life would wind up in that room together, but it's important to the point that I think the film is trying to make. I think that every moral and ethical idea presented is relevant and all of the characters add something new to the 'idea' of the film. As political sides emerge and different viewpoints clash, it becomes clear that this group of people is sort of like a microcosm of our modern world. It becomes a study in sociology, psychology, morality and Darwinism. Human beings tend to hold their hatred for each other inside and never let others see it. But when life and death are at stake, when everyone's back is against the wall, and when the power to kill another to save yourself is as easy as closing one's fist, how would people really react? I think it's realistic in it's portrayal of seemingly good people turning on each other. Granted it's not totally nihilistic. A lot of them want someone to survive at the end who deserves it, but the group spends so much time bickering and arguing with each other, killing each other through frustration and anger, and even through strategy in trying to survive that they end up wiping out most of the best people early on. Human beings are traded like pawns in a game as strategies come head to head. And in the end, who walks away the winner out of all of the chaos that we humans put ourselves and each other through with our endless judgments of each other and our pointless struggle to the top of the food chain?


The psychopath. The manipulator. The deceiver. The smartest and least ethically bound out of all of them takes the grand prize. If this isn't a metaphor for the elite in our society then I don't know what is. He pretends to be on the side of the weakest in the room, promising to sacrifice himself for them if one of them can do the same. But then he turns on them, survival instincts kicking in. How many people would have done the same in his position? Way too many in this world. His victory totally negates the sacrifices of all of those who came before him, because it's totally unethical. But it makes the movie as a whole mean so much more because of that negation.

But going back to one of the main themes of the movie, is it really our place to judge him? As he stands amidst a group of survivors, we see that they are mostly children and pregnant women. If the aliens are trying to purify the world down to 2 percent of our current population, wouldn't the new world need some strong, smart people to lead the needy and the weak? It really makes you think. And that's why I think this film is great. It makes you think not only about society and the dilemmas humans face as a whole but it asks you to take a look at your own judgements and values and ask whether or not they are really what is best for others and for society. Personally I do think Eric is evil though. We're all faced with the eventuality of our own death, maybe all we can do is live truly good lives and hope that the world that is left after we are gone is a better one. But we need to watch out for those manipulators and evildoers at the top of the pile or they will take everything we've struggled for centuries to achieve.

Overall this is a very disturbing film, but a poignant one. It brings up a lot of interesting questions about human nature and provides no easy answers. This is a bold film, a challenging film, and a film not for everyone, but if you can stomach the subject matter I highly recommend it.
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A Clever Entertaining Ride
HorrorOverEverything17 October 2015
This is a fairly simple movie, a bunch of people wake up in a strange room and are rapidly picked off one by one. However the kicker is that they get to vote off who dies next. I really enjoyed this, it felt like a reality show from hell.

The film gets going almost right away, there isn't really any build up or character development before people start dying. As the group gets smaller we slowly start to get to know some of the characters, but no one main character is ever really determined. I like that they did this, it made it so it was pretty unpredictable as to who would die next. The film is also pretty heavy on dialogue, I am pretty surprised that they were able to find a fairly unknown cast that was able to pull this off well. The majority of the characters are believable and deliver solid performances.

There are a few negatives that are worth mentioning though. One is that some of the kills were too random, it's pretty much like "Why would they randomly kill that person when they could have easily killed the person who is clearly giving them a reason to do so?" Not a huge complaint but just kind of took away from the film in my opinion. Also the ending was a bit stale, not so much to ruin the movie but wasn't exactly the payoff I was hoping for.

Overall this is a very entertaining film, it held my attention throughout and actually had me on the edge of my seat a few times. If you enjoyed films like Saw and Cube I would definitely suggest checking this out.

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Public speaking has never been this much fun (to watch!)
bowmanblue27 April 2016
'Circle.' It's a pretty tight little film, basically filmed only in the one location for an hour and a half – the location being a completely pitch black room with fifty red spots on the floor. In each, stands a random stranger and every couple of minutes one of which gets zapped by – er – something and brutally killed before their body is dragged off into the gloom. Confused? How do you think the fifty people feel?! And that's that – fifty people turns to forty. Forty turns to thirty and so on. It's a tough sell and it's probably never going to be a mainstream hit (especially as about the most well-known face is Dexter's wife from the TV series of the same name). Anyway, I think it deserves a cult following as I'm sure it will find an audience out there somewhere.

Its simple premise and delivery kind of reminded me of other (rather fun films) such as The Human race and Cube. Yes, it's hardly action-packed. The fifty people can't even move off their little red spot on the floor – if they do, that nasty zapper comes back for them again and that's that for them. What you have is a kind of morality tale about what people would do in this situation. Would they vote to kill people they don't know just to save themselves, or would they try and save everyone? It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. I can see plenty of people finding it boring, or being annoyed at the ending (I won't say why – you'll have to check out the internet message boards!), but if you're in the mood for something a little different and without any major car chases or Marvel superheroes destroying entire cities then give this one a go. I found it on Netflix and was glad I did – definitely worth seeing if you're in the mood for something dark, talky and that will make you question what you'd do in this most of weird and extreme of situations.
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You have to meet this movie at least halfway
thekarmicnomad24 November 2015
Some seemingly random people appear in a circular room, every now and then one of them is executed. They quickly realise there is a way to 'vote off' your fellow circle dwellers in a very terminal way.

It is not long before prejudices and biases start to arise. Someone notices more black people are getting zapped than white people. Coincidence? Some of these biases are played out very professionally with flair and drama, others are handled a bit clumsily leading to some very cringey dialogue.

This film lives and dies by how much you are prepared to invest into it.

If you think about the scenario logically, then a lot of the choices people make seem rash and rather stupid.

But if you can put yourself in the characters shoes, and imagine that you - staring wide eyed down the barrel of a gun - are about to be killed over some scum bag rapist, in reality wouldn't you want that extra two minutes of life over them - just on principle?

This is where the film needs to draw you in. The acting, lighting, effects and sound are all good enough. However, some of the characters aren't, forcing some of the actors into a corner they have to ham their way out off. Then the spell starts to crack.

If you can remove all distractions and try to engage your emotions and blot out the signals coming from the rational parts of your brain then this is very good for Netflix fodder.

I was fully prepared to have one of those stupid no answer endings. I was pleased to get a bit more than I expected.
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Had a lot of promise, fell short
After reading the synopsis of this film prior to viewing it I thought "Aha! This will suit my penchant for sadistic thrillers." I was hoping for something similar to Cube and instead got a feature length study of human nature. This was fine. What was not fine was the so-so delivery of such an exciting premise. It was messy and just seemed to miss some key element. For a movie that was so dialogue heavy it was disappointing to have it not delve a little deeper. Also the voting system was a little confusing and haphazard which made the whole thing seem a little sluggish, rather than clean and fast paced. Despite these flaws, Circle did manage to hold my attention quite well and had me engaged with the characters at points, as each stereotype of society is represented and played with, however fleetingly. The plot twist at the end was not entirely shocking as it summed up the true nature of most humans quite accurately. I believe the crushing sense of disappointment I experienced after watching this film was at least partially intentional, and for that I give it credit.
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An enjoyable watch
alison196316 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Just finished watching this enjoyable indie film, which is somewhere between an episode of The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror.

50 people trapped in a room who quickly come to realise that they have to vote who will die next, each death at 2-minute intervals.

What we see is the obvious discussions and arguments regarding race, sexuality, who has lived the most valid life, should the oldest be first, etc. ... anything that can be argued to be a black mark against somebody who isn't you, so that they you have a reason for them to be the next victim (and you to live).

The film moves along at a good pace, it never felt like it was dragging.

I found the acting to be pretty good and the twist at the end was a surprise.

Well worth a viewing in my humble opinion.
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Hour and a half long serial execution by jury!
ryanoaklen25 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Circle is a thought provoking movie that is definitely not worth a 9/10. So why then did I give it just that?

For reasons that I don't fully understand, I find myself mesmerized by the end of an hour and a half long serial execution by jury. This style of movie has been attempted multiple times before with the likes of Cube, Saw, and a couple underground indie flicks, where in the premise, at it's basis is kill or be killed. Though surprisingly none others quite matched up to the tone and imaginative nature of Circle.

Let me try to explain in more detail and I emphasize try:

Circle is a very simplistic movie where 50 people are trapped in a circle (thought to be trapped by E.T's), a circle that forces the unlucky individuals to choose who to kill in 2 minute intervals. Where it gets interesting is the evolution of everyones mindset on how to go about killing each other. The psychology used, the ruthlessness at the core of seemingly everyday people, the innocence, the betrayal, the discrimination, and the humanity in others is what is so mesmerizing about this indie. It is a lower budget, decent acted psychological thriller that educes the imagination in so many ways. With a semi intriguing simplistic idea, they were able to create an entertaining thought provoking humanistic experiment, simply with dialogue, and a Circle.

I give this movie a 9/10 for the simple fact that there is nothing else quite like it. And whatever is quite like it, still isn't quite like it. In general movie terms, I wouldn't dream of rating this movie higher than a 6/10. However, when you walk away satisfied yet still wanting more, disgusted yet applauding, and tired yet contemplative, I have no choice but to stick with my rating.
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Surprisingly a good movie...
jshell-6760626 October 2015
Typical 'date night' with my wife on a Sunday evening...she wants to watch some scary movie and I cannot stand them because they never seem to live up to the hype and/or only implore cheap "BOO" shots. Not this movie... We picked this out of 100+ on a streaming service and we were very happy we did. The movie very quickly gets going, no long build up and catches your interest from the first 'zap'. And it quickly exposes humanity's almost complete lack of compassion and everyone's brutal opportunistic self. The underlying social and moral values that are revealed are very poignant and on more than 1 occasion we found ourselves asking "What would you do...?"

So I ask you... "What would you do if you were locked in a dark room with 49 strangers of various walks of life, and had to choose who dies every 2 minutes until there is no one left? How would you handle yourself?"
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I found it flat
allenandginter16 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
It holds you, pulls you into it and has you rooting for people. The problem was simple, to be honest. The ending was so flaccid, based on the build up, it leaves you thinking "Come on.." I was surprised , based on how the film ended, at the level of acting in this movie.That was the shining point when you factor in the ending or the lack of context and content. It was nice to see "Rita" after her demise in Dexter, finding a roll and playing it well :) If it had a bit more context, content or a bit more story, I think it would have been a terrific movie. Instead it went down the pseudo- cerebral path and fell on it's face. I Would not recommend this to anyone unless it was a .99 rental at a red-box simply because it is missing the delivery that comes after the build up
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Lets Talk
supatube22 January 2016
So you've read the synopsis and want to see if this is something you might be interested in.

Have you ever seen, "The Man from Earth"? Did you like the movie? Where they talk and talk and show nothing characteristically typical of a Sci-Fi flik. Well, "Circles" does something similar with all the talking, except with strong horror undercurrents and themes that focus more on sociology and politics.

There is a similar "Cube" feeling, that confined atmosphere of death but "Circles" has a far better pace and manages to keep the intrigue all the way to the end with only ever using one room. admittedly I first viewed "Cube" well after its release and I find it so dated and difficult to stay awake through. It lulls me to sleep no matter what time of day. But I digress.

"Circles" could have fleshed out some of those intimate moments of the actors more thoroughly but I'm assuming budget effected time which meant that there were only a few takes. So boom. That one will just have to do.

Nonetheless I appreciate the themes this film shoots for. I enjoy a film that enrages me a little when portraying human nature as it systematically makes my brain wheel turn. Is this plausible, are we capable and would I really behave like that?

I don't think this a horror or sci-fi genre specific, rather more of a drama with the other two built in. I think if you enjoy a good drama but have gotten tired of the opaque sadness the genre likes to play in, then give this a shot. I think you'll have a good time wading through the tension.

In the end it was a great film where it simply holds a mirror up to the 2010's and says, "Take a look, what do you see? Wanna talk about it"
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An OK, but lacklustre social-observation Sci-Fi
trelloskilos-19 April 2016
There are several movies that have done this sort of thing before. Put a cross section of society in an isolated situation (Desert Island, Hostile Planet, Booby Trapped Death Cube, Reality TV Show etc.), and observe their behaviours to see who is a team player, and who is a selfish aback-stabber.

Circle reminded me of a more extreme version of the TV game show 'The Weakest Link'. Only there is 50 people involved, and each is voting for their own life.

It's a neat premise on paper, but ultimately, the movie doesn't really go anywhere with it.

As a social commentary, we are presented with a broad cross-section of some very unpleasant stereotypes across the spectrum. Nothing was spared, whether race, gender, age, disability, sexuality, the movie provided some very sloppy examples of stereotyping & discrimination.

As a sci-fi movie, there is no character development at all. The movie only has two ongoing questions and they are 'Who will everyone vote for next?" and "Why?". The first question is answered every few minutes, and the second answer seems to be "Isn't it obvious?". - There is a third question "What the hell is going on?" and to its credit, the movie does not have an ambiguous ending. It does actually answer that question, but the answer feels like a tacked-on epilogue that doesn't really tie all the loose ends.

All in all, I found myself getting a bit bored & impatient with the movie to start going somewhere. I continued watching a bunch of people squabble over strategic voting and each round became more telegraphed. Even the 'twist' final rounds were predictable.

There are much better socially based sci-fi movies around The Cube & The Exam, for example, allowed for some character development, and for moral ambiguity.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this film as an in-depth moral commentary about humanity, but if you are into the whole 'watching people stab others in the back' thing, then this will kill an hour or so.
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Clever, suspense, unique, and lot's of dialogue
aurorajay31 October 2015
If you like car crashes, sex scenes and special effects, don't watch this film.

But if you like thought provoking, intelligent suspense, do watch it.

I was hesitant; there is very little info online about the movie and even fewer reviews, but Netflix offered it, so I had a go.

My wife and I don't always like the same kind of movies, but we both enjoyed this and discussed what we'd do in that situation.

The judgements and discussions that occurred during the film made me realize how judgemental we really all are.

Even though it is very dialogue heavy, I didn't get bored. In fact I couldn't believe how quickly the time passed.

So glad I watched it..... wish I could forget it and watch again....
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never gets any better
toddg-473-28981810 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I tried to get into this movie, and by the time it was over, I realized I had wasted an hour and a half of my life. The only reason I stayed with it was because it reminded me of 2010's NINE DEAD, a far better movie.

CIRCLE tells the story of a group of strangers who wake up inside a darkened room, all standing in lit red circles placed in a larger circle in a few rows so that everyone can see and hear each other. A mysterious orb in the middle of the room starts killing each of them off one by one, seemingly without any rhyme or reason. The characters begin trying to figure out how the killing process works, and surmise that the orb kills off another person every two minutes, and that the survivors have the collective ability to vote for the person who will be next. They also discover that death befalls anyone who leaves the lit circle in which they are standing, as does having physical contact with anyone standing near them.

The group spends a little time trying to figure out how they all got there, and to see if they have any ties to anyone else in the room. Not enough time is spent on this investigative process and the uncovering of the layers that might keep the audience interested. Instead the generic conclusion is that a giant ship from outer space reached down and grabbed each of them and brought them to the ship and placed them in captivity. The group then exercises flawed reasoning as to who should be killed next, whether it be determined by age, race, or socioeconomic standing.

The screenwriters tried to portray the group as a random cross section of people: The young, the old, people of different races and occupations. The story then unfortunately takes too many pot shots at stereotypes, particularly conservative ones. For example, the one police officer in the group is labeled judgmental for pointing out the one criminal in the group, and the one the white collar worker wearing a tie and suspenders (a white male, of course) is branded as a racist for his words to a black man in the group. And the stereotyping wouldn't be complete without the same white male devaluing the lesbian mother's life and worth. Even the one minister in the group is scoffed at for suggesting that God is the answer, while the continued elimination of people in the group suggest that God is nowhere to be found. And the lone soldier in the group is accused of having information about the spaceship that he was keeping from the rest of the group.

As the herd thins out, the remaining survivors deduce a convoluted idea that with enough votes in one direction, the young girl and pregnant lady in the group can be spared death. How the script got to this point is fuzzy, and the story was already too far gone for the audience to care if anyone survived.

In the end, the lone survivor is seen on the ground outside the ship, with onlookers gathered to watch the ship leaving the skies above the earth. No further explanation is given, and whatever attempt at a bombshell explanation that is given by the survivor's narration at the end of the movie was ineffective. I finished this movie feeling cheated and empty, like I had been lectured to.
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Foutainoflife24 February 2019
A whole bunch of folks wake to find themselves on a circular pad that is some sort of elimination game. How is this game played? Why have they been chosen as participants? What is the point?

So. After just having watched this, absolutely none of these questions came with any clear cut answers. This film was a look at socialism, morality, psychology and self preservation. While these are all fascinating topics and can cause the viewer to invest in certain characters more so than others, there is no real point to this movie. I was into it but the end had no payoff and it made what could have been a 6 or 7 star film take a nosedive all the way down to 3 stars for me. The ending didn't work for me at all. After watching all the drama among these characters the only word I could mutter was "REALLY!?!"
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Great Movie, Will Make You Mad
BrandonLetkeman26 October 2015
Fantastic concept that is beautifully executed. All the decisions and rationale behind them feel disturbingly real. I found myself yelling at the characters on many occasions.

My one gripe would be that it was hard for me to imagine how certain characters would survive as long as they did given their actions.

That said the turmoil did cause me to become that much more involved in the story.

This film falls in line perfectly with others that similarly take a unique concept and flesh them out into intriguing narratives. If you like Cube, The Game, The Box, or even Adjustment Bureau (not nearly as sappy so don't worry) you will love this movie.

Side note if you watched this movie and liked it you should also check out the ones I mentioned above.
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Who deserves to live?
publicj17 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
No matter what society we live in or what culture we came from we are making decisions that seem small but are affecting the lives of others, we are different and separated because of culture, race, religion, income, sex orientation... but at the same time we are the same: we all want to live, this is what this movie is about.

When it comes to political decisions and who deserves to live or must most profit from resources the question gets complicated, this movie tries the clarify some of the motivations groups of humans have to reject the other and how these motivations only make sense in the heads of people who have them, in nature things are different and it is shown in the ending that the one who gets to live have done that by a mix of intelligence and luck.

This movie is more about political science and sociology than science fiction or horror.
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Good movie...and then the typical ending happens
hami515023 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
It's a surprisingly nicely done psycho-thriller, much like the movie Cube, only without all the Saw-type booby traps and gore. There were a few holes and flaws in the characters thinking (i.e. how did the "couple" manage to hatch a plan to lie about being married so fast without anyone hearing them, what did the girl whisper to the Latino man who didn't speak English just before she was eliminated, and once they realized they had a minister in the room, why didn't they vote him off? After all, if he believes, then he has the least to fear of all of them). I really liked how I thought it was going to end, and actually felt myself tearing up a bit that this little girl was going to sacrifice herself, only to have that ruined with the guy tricking them. Then, it just turned into a typical forced ending of ambiguity. And, of course, the young white guy is the survivor. Not only did this movie lose me at the end, they also lose serious creativity points. The ending made no sense, and brought zero closure to the whole thing. I personally would have liked to seen an ending more along the lines of the last guy is the "winner", but the prize is that he gets to be a guinea pig for the aliens, while we see the others who were "eliminated" waking up together back on Earth, realizing that they actually "won". But, that's just a thought. It was an enjoyable film, just went into the ravine at the end.
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Gladiators 2.0
Tweetienator22 August 2018
This one hit me by surprise out of nowhere - survival of the fittest in a staged deadly game by powers who are disclosed in the end: a nice mix of mystery, thriller and sci-fi. The Circle got some flaws but all in all it is a refreshing movie. Good.
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Simple, yet effective look into our beauty and ugliness alike
jasha896 November 2016
As it usually goes with movies that are flying by under our radar we go in with no big expectations. But from time to time we find a jewel that is hiding and just waiting to be found. For me, Circle is a jewel.

Yes, the premise is absurd, and therefore some things are a little too convenient but still it offers a good look into ourselves, and how we truly are inside. There is a burning question that is constantly hovering over during the movie and that is "what would you do or say to stay alive?" but unlike many other movies, whatever you do or decide to say has to be backed up by other people. Alone, you are powerless up until the very end.

The movie is entirely made up of dialogue that is, in my opinion, very good. Acting is not spectacular, but is definitely solid. There are no big or familiar names which works very well for this flick because from the beginning till the end you cannot predict who will come on top. You cant help but ask yourself how would you react in their shoes and the suspense is present during the whole ride.

Yes, my 10 star rating is perhaps a little over the top, but I really couldn't contain my excitement during the final moments of the movie and it did hit me directly in the heart so yes - I will give this indie jewel a 10 and hope that people behind it continue to move forward in their career.

Give it a try, you will have a blast.
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If you are a nihilist you will like this film
KineticSeoul10 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I will say this movie pulls no punches and goes in a very crude direction. I guess it's the directors interpretation of humanity, motives and realism. What arsenals with mind games human beings will use in order to survive. Of how in the real world, what people usually ends up winning in the end. Well at least in this world we are living in currently. So yeah, this movie might leave a bad aftertaste for some viewers. Actually probably many viewers, especially with the ending and all. It's something no Hollywood movie with a big budget would try to tackle. So I give the filmmakers props for going in a gutsy direction with it all. However this film tries to go in a direction that tries to destroy all hope for humanity. Like I said the ending is a realistic portrayal of what would go down from a nihilist perspective. To be honest I think this movie is probably the most nihilistic and skeptical movie I have ever seen. So I suggest that if you are dealing with depression to stay far away from this one. To sum up this setting overall, it's like some sort of evil and vile game that the Joker would play to bring out the true colors of humanity.

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What was that?
lukakonajcic10 January 2019
This was probably the worst movie I have ever watched. The story is complete crap, and I regret watching it. I demand to get back 1h26m of my life back. Jesus this was so bad.
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Clever, bleak and frightening idea in the spirit of 'Cube'
hoytyhoyty22 October 2015
Looking at the votes for this film, I struggle to understand why, at writing, they averaged out at a 5.8.

I would say that the unfortunate truth is, simply, most SF viewers are not very bright. The thrust of this story would have gone over many of their heads.

By the time they realised that the whole film is a group of protagonists standing around in a circle, trying to deflect their own doom, they were probably grabbing their own heads and wailing about that and about the fact they couldn't follow it either.

And that explains a lot about the western world - and not just SF fans, since: everyone votes. OR should vote.

This story is politics distilled to its very essence. Factions, voting systems, altruism and reciprocal altruism, dirty deals, sociopaths hiding in plain site... the works.

If I could fault it... I don't know, something prevents me giving it a 10. The very ending, atmospheric though it was, contained a bit too much non-sequitur for my liking, and that's a trend in metaphorical films like this - one that annoys me greatly.

But it deserves at least an 8 or 9.

Might get the disc of this and put it up on the shelf next to 'Cube', 'Nothing' and 'Pi'.



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Not bad at all!
doorsscorpywag21 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Who would have thought that a movie about 50 people standing in a circle could be a good idea? But it turned out to be not bad at all.

Everybody wakes up and they start to panic a bit until a couple of them die from a strange light in the centre of the circle. Some of them remember running from some possibly alien threat and waking up in the circle. Every couple of minutes someone gets killed and its then they realise that they are choosing who dies and that's when it gets more interesting. A nice study of stereotypes and prejudice. Who is worthy to survive and who isn't.

To me it seems as if the 'aliens' were using this circle as a form of entertainment and possibly gambling on the outcome. Who will be the last 'man' standing? And why?

The ending was quite clever and not what you would expect. Overall a decent movie filmed on a limited budget but with some good ideas and a clever script and some reasonably good acting. I enjoyed it and give it 8*
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An intriguing, well-made film: Waiting for Godot meets The Weakest Link
samuellickiss25 June 2018
Let's first of all say that this isn't the sort of film I'd ordinarily watch, and I started watching it by accident after searching Netflix for 'The Circle', which a friend had recommended to me, starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Karen Gillan among other well-known actors.

'Circle', however, contains no one famous. It became obvious pretty quickly that I was watching the wrong film, but something about it kept me interested. For all intents and purposes, it looks like a horror, which I don't usually like, but it's not remotely scary and is better described as a psychological thriller. It's not really that either - there's no action. In fact, the entire cast spend the entire film standing in a circle (and around in a circle) until they get killed off, whereby they disappear. Their deaths come at the hands of a mysterious orb thing in the middle of said circle that zaps them and they collapse. Not gruesome or gratuitous at all.

The best way I can describe is a combination of 'Waiting for Godot' meets the quiz show 'The Weakest Link'.

Consequently, it defies easy categorisation, but it wastes no time in establishing the theme that lasts for the whole film: a group of fifty men and women (and children) from all different walks of life wake up to find themselves in a circle faced with a machine that will kill one of them every two minutes. The twist? They get to anonymously vote for who gets killed. I know from having done a fair amount of amateur dramatics that one of the hardest things is being on stage without any lines. It's easy to act when you've got something to say and people to interact with, but just standing there having to react to everything while getting little to do yourself is hard. It's a credit to this cast, the majority of whom are completely unknown, that they all put in solid performances. Few characters get much more than a handful of lines each, and several get none at all, yet each of them feels like a real person with their own history and personality approaching their predicament in their own way.

As the characters figure out how the weird death chamber operates, leaders, and later factions, gradually emerge and facilitate discussion among them. How should they decide who gets killed next? One character proposes that the old people should go first - they've already lived their life - while others vehemently disagree: why are their lives less valuable? Another character notices that many of the people who get killed off early are black; others accuse them of 'playing the race card'.

The film, ultimately, is a discussion on how we value life. Is it possible to quantify the value of life? Is a pregnant woman really more valuable than a childless person; couples more valuable than singles; white-collar workers more valuable than blue-collar workers; children or the elderly? It's a topical film when we as a planet are facing chronic overpopulation and resource shortages. Debates around euthanasia, for example, often bring up the slippery slope: if an old person gets sick, isn't it just easier to kill them ('euthanasia') rather than invest time, effort and money into caring for them? It thinks it's cleverer than it actually is. While some of these moral discussions are given sophisticated, intelligent treatment, others, such as a conversation around race, are clunky and feel shoehorned. Also, the fact there are only two minutes between each death means there's little depth and dialogue exchanges are vanishingly brief. Nevertheless, it's a film that I found myself thinking about: what would I do in their situation? How would I play it? I think most people watching it will find themselves siding and associating with particular characters quite quickly, whether they would admit it or not. It's a great film for starting discussions. I watched it with a few friends and we spent quite a long time talking about this, and while the film itself may not be overly deep, you can build on that in your own time.

It's not perfect: the ending leaves a lot to be desired (though could set up a sequel), some deaths feel completely random with little rhyme or reason (like the script writers couldn't think of one), and because the film attempts to cover just about every facet of society it does feel a little thin rather than focusing on one or two topical issues.

The bottom line is I found myself really engaged in 'Circle'. It's a great example of what filmmakers can achieve with limited budgets. 'Circle' features one set, but it's brilliantly designed - striking and sinister. The sound design is equally ominous and adds to the chilling atmosphere. The camerawork and editing is good, and the directors have done a great job with the cast. The last film I watched on Netflix was 'Stasis', which was a painful mess from start to finish, so 'Circle' was a welcome and refreshing change.
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How will you prove your worth to a room full of strangers?
corny_andy29 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is straight forward and simple. People are put in a room and are forced to vote on who dies next. People are disappointed with the ending and I can see why. Personally I find it kind of obvious what's going on, and I don't think it needs much explanation. Some outside force wants less humans in existence. I don't feel like there needs to be much explaining for that, if you do then you probably wont like this movie. I found this movie very terrifying because I was invested in it. This movie makes you question your own morals and judgement. Everyday people are put in a room, from all backgrounds and upbringings. This movie had me thinking to my self "Wow who I would vote for in this situation?" and I found that to be truly terrifying. How will you convince a room full of strangers to save your life? Your survival skills are put to the test and you have to what you have to do to survive. I found myself thinking is "Damn that's so messed up, but I would have voted for them too." Makes you be completely honest with yourself, and I enjoyed it.
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