Fifty people wake up in a darkened room, only to find that one of them is killed every two minutes or when they attempt to leave. When they realize that they can control which person is selected to die, arguments erupt among the group regarding who deserves to survive.
The above summary of Circle makes it sound like an extremely simplistic film and that’s exactly what it is, the entire movie takes place in a dimly lit room.
While it may look pretty basic on the surface, Circle works well with what it has. You immediately imagine yourself in the situation, it makes you wonder what you might say or do in order to survive. That’s in essence what makes it so fascinating; it’s a depraved experiment on what a human being would do to live if they had a literal gun to their heads and only moments to spare. There’s no doubt that some very hard decisions would have to be made but just how do you choose who deserves to live and who doesn’t?
After several minutes, the group begin to talk and gain an understanding that each of them can individually vote for who they want to be killed next. It is decided that in order for them to make some kind of attempt to understand what the hell is going on they must come up with a strategy. It’s decided that the first people to go should be the old people as they had already lived long lives, some protest but it’s not long before the mysterious black dome in the centre of the room begins to pick them off one after another.
The precious spare minutes give the remaining group time to discuss who each of them are, how they got there and if they had any memory of being abducted. One person claims to remember being in traffic and attempting to flee Los Angeles, which jogs the memories of others. He is the only one to remember his abduction until an elderly man says he saw and spoke to aliens. As the elderly man describes them, several others accuse him of lying to prolong his life; he is killed next.
After several minorities are quickly eliminated, an African-American man claims the process has become racist. Several others dispute this, but when the cop goes on a racist rant, he is selected next. They find they cannot vote for themselves, and all ties must be resolved, meaning that one of the final two people left must volunteer to die or else both will die.
After several eliminations, two main blocs emerge: one that wants to protect the pregnant woman and a young girl, and another that wants to eliminate them immediately as a threat to their survival.
At this point, it becomes a game of tactical deception which leads to the final few survivors but only one can remain.
I won’t give any details on the final moments of the film, to know the final participant from the very start would leave it feeling rather pointless. I feel this is the biggest negative aspect of Circle, I think it would fall completely flat on repeat viewings. This is likely the case with most movies but it’s like watching a game show when you already know the winner, the journey involving the other contestants is left feeling rather hollow and pointless.
The only question Circle answers is how the people got into the situation they find themselves in? Unfortunately it doesn’t answer why? I doubt we’ll ever know.
Circle is about people, their motivations and how ruthless just about anyone can be when they’re facing death. It succeeds at creating a tense atmosphere and certainly raises questions within the viewer about what you would do in the situation.
Circle is one of those movies that you’ll only be able to watch once but it’s an interesting journey that will probably make you loathe humanity more than you already did.