Sociopath James Bennett (Sila Weir Mitchell - Prison Break, My Name is Earl) commit’s a series of brutal murders and afterwards escapes from the maximum security hospital. The FBI teams up with US Marshals and his former Dr. Green (Gail O’Grady - Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo, NYPD Blue) to try and solve the puzzle that is James Bennett. Bennett seems to be heading back to his childhood home where a group of six graduates are studying his surroundings for their thesis. The authorities must unravel the sociopath’s mind, strange Greek philosophy that might be driving his murders and do all this before Bennett kills some college students!
Circle is the kind of horror movie I like, sporting a cast of relative unknowns. When you have big stars you tend to know who will bite the dust and who will be the typical “survivor”. Here the plot harkens back to movies like Halloween and Friday The 13th (which star America Olivio was in the remake of as well as her role here). While this movie is nowhere near the original Halloween, or Friday The 13th it does well for a Grindhouse-style film. It aims to be more than the cheap horror flick with a storyline that had some thought put into it unlike many movies of the same style that purposely bypass any attempt as a meaningful storyline. The movie also shows the authority side of things ala Se7en or The Silence Of The Lambs, of course not to the degree of those classics, but it made the film more than just the typical slasher Grindhouse-style film.
The cast is filled with beautiful ladies from the striking beauty of America Olivo (The Last Resort, Bitch Slap), Erin (Reese) Lokitz (Buried Alive, The Graveyard) to Kinsey Packard (Upcoming - Nuclear Family) and Erin Foster (Cellular, The O.C., The Darkroom) as well as former NYPD star Gail O‘Grady. Their male counterparts are decent, but below the ladies’ performances in the film. I think Silas Weir Mitchell as Bennett tried a little too hard to make his character stoic and at times came across as laughable, one scene he’s walking up an empty road and his hands are completely straight and the look on his face trying to be dead-serious-crazy just made me laugh a little. In other scenes he pulls off the homicidal maniac role well such as his scene with the dead bodies early on, you can tell the man isn’t all there in his head, but he’s more than an unthinking killer as well. America Olivo and Erin Lokitz rule most of the movie which I feel made the quality of the film higher than it would have been without them.
Director Michael W. Watkins does a fine job of keeping the film above the level of some of it’s would-be peers with quality film-work that rises above Grindhouse status to be pretty respectable for a lower budget Independent film. The only real criticism I have of Watkins is how Bennett became laughable at times being a little too stoic and trying to act like a horror movie villain instead of simply being one naturally. I guess that's why some other horror movies in the same vein use masks, to help cover up the faces so we can go more by body language instead of trying to read the characters through their facial expressions.
Circle accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is scare you! The film might fit in more with a film such as When A Stranger Calls, but it is ultimately it’s own film for good or bad. Not quite original, it still surprises with a cast that leaves you wondering what will happen because there is no Scream Queen that you know will survive, which benefits the film by making it a little less predictable. The story gets confusing at times but strives to be better than the average B movie, this is ultimately a fun little horror flick that will spook you at times.
The gore content isn’t too bad, and I used to despise gore, but I’d still keep the young ones away because of some horrifying imagery and sexual scenes that will make this appeal more to an adult audience. Men should eat this up, but not quite expect a top-notch film. It’s just a good old-fashioned Thriller that is very enjoyable. It is what it is and I enjoyed it for that. I recommend giving this a rental and a buy for the more hardcore of horror fans who go for this type of movie. Hardcore horror fans who can appreciate a Grindhouse-type flick with better cinematography will love this one!
DVD Extras -
- Behind The Scenes Featurette
- Sneak Previews
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