Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton
Silas Weir Mitchell
What's it about
U.S. Marshals team with an FBI agent when a convicted serial killer escapes from a mental asylum. Meanwhile, a group of college students decide to spend some time at the killer’s childhood home to study his surroundings and write a thesis on what could have led to his craziness. This is never a good idea.
Is it good movie?
CIRCLE is an apt title for a movie that goes nowhere, fast. Unfortunately, that’s how I’d choose to describe director Michael Watkins’ film. Watkins has done a lot of TV work. “Prison Break”, “The X-Files” and “Law and Order” are all included on his résumé - so you certainly can’t cite a lack of experience to explain why this is such a bore. CIRCLE turns so generic and forgettable that I certainly had trouble sticking with it through the final leg.
The only scene of true potential in the whole movie is the opening one, which is creepy and effective. It looks like a mental institution. A man surrounds a group of inmates tied to chairs, arranged in a semi-circle (really… the movie should be called SEMI-CIRCLE… but I guess that didn’t fly). Most of them are already dead and sporting bloody wounds in their chest. The man is James Bennett (Silas Weir Mitchell). Nine years before, Bennett killed a group of other people using the same MO. Now, he has escaped and is heading back home. Unfortunately, so is the college study group. Bad timing.
CIRCLE alternates between two separate threads: the boring wannabe-slasher movie, and the boring police procedural movie. Both, as I’ve pointed out, are boring. Once the undergrads reach their destination (a set with nothing special to offer), everything stalls out and never recovers. The set-up indicates the movie might be intriguing and have some interesting touches, but it never really delivers on anything worthwhile. Meanwhile, the authorities try to get to the bottom of the whole case and track down Bennett, although the notion to check the killer’s childhood home never occurs to them, nor is the fact that the students are there known to anyone at all. Yeah, there are a bunch of idiots in this movie.
There’s one twist that you’re going to see coming, and very little inspiration overall in Brad Tiemann’s script. I was expecting something a whole lot cooler from CIRCLE. This feels like a straightforward TV movie through and through.
Video / Audio
CIRCLE is a bloodless, suspense-free, uninspired movie that plays out in predictable fashion. It falls far short as a horror film.