Circle (2015 film)
|Music by||Justin Marshall Elias|
|Edited by||Tom Campbell|
Circle is a 2015 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione. The ensemble cast includes Carter Jenkins, Lawrence Kao, Allegra Masters, Michael Nardelli, Julie Benz, Mercy Malick, Lisa Pelikan, and Cesar Garcia. It was inspired by the 1957 drama 12 Angry Men and was shot in 2014. It premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 28, 2015, before being released to video-on-demand on October 16, 2015. In the film, 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, blocs emerge based on personal values.
Fifty people wake up in a darkened room, arranged in two concentric circles around a black dome. Noises sound when they attempt to move or touch the others. When someone ignores the warning and leaves formation, a beam from the dome kills them. As the others panic, a man attempts to calm them. In mid-sentence, he is killed by the device. Thereafter, every two minutes, another person is killed. After several people die, they realize they can vote for who dies. When nobody votes, one is selected randomly.
After arguing over criteria, a college guy suggests that they vote together for the elderly. Having bought several minutes by not arguing, they discuss where they are, how they got there, who has abducted them, and why. 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.
When the college guy proposes a middle-aged woman as their next target, several people who do not consider her elderly object. The woman describes herself as a 52-year-old cancer survivor, which draws suggestions that she is going to die anyway. A doctor joins others in her defense, and when the college guy pushes for the cancer survivor's death regardless, people select him instead. Several people say they recognize the others: the doctor and a man possibly had an affair, a man identifies the woman next to him as his wife, and a cop points out an alleged girlfriend -beater, a tattooed man who initially denies the allegations but under pressure says she deserved it and is eliminated.
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 attempt to give 1 vote to every person in the circle, but one man votes for the pregnant woman, so a man identified as Eric votes for him. They tie, and the man is killed in a run-off vote. Intrigued, the captives experiment with voting. 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 volunteer to die, a skeptical faction led by an atheist and an Asian boy antagonizes the theists who praised the volunteers' faith. The atheist is briefly saved, but when he accuses a pretty girl beside him of being a porn star, which she denies, he is killed. A lesbian becomes a target, but the lawyer who argued strongest for her selection is killed instead.
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. A soldier, a one-armed man, and Eric argue everyone should sacrifice themselves to save the girl and pregnant woman for last, while a faction led by a rich man argues that everyone is equal, and no special privileges should be afforded to anyone. The husband is forced to vote with the soldier's bloc when they threaten to eliminate his wife, but, under interrogation, they admit they concocted the relationship to curry favor. They are both eliminated, and the two factions aggressively thin their opponents' numbers.
Eventually, only Eric, the pregnant woman, a silent man who has never voted, and the girl are left. Eric theorizes that aliens have used the process to learn about humanity's values. After the silent man is eliminated, Eric encourages the young girl to join him in suicide. However, at the same time she dies, Eric quickly votes to kill the pregnant woman. Eric waits to be freed, but then ties with the pregnant woman's unborn child, whom he votes to kill. Eric wakes in Los Angeles where he joins a group of people, mostly pregnant women and children, watching a fleet of hovering alien craft.
- Michael Nardelli as Eric
- Allegra Masters as Pregnant woman
- Molly Jackson as Little girl (Katie)
- Jordi Vilasuso as Soldier
- Julie Benz as Wife
- Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau as Bearded man
- Lisa Pelikan as Cancer survivor
- Lawrence Kao as Asian kid
- Zachary James Rukavina as One-armed man
- Daniel Lench as Rich man
- Matt Corboy as Husband (Craig)
- Rene Heger as Atheist
- Coley Speaks as African American man
- Sara Sanderson as Pretty girl (Christina)
- Michael McLafferty as Lawyer
- Mercy Malick as Lesbian
- Michael DiBacco as Cop
- Muneer Katchi as Silent man
- Ashley Key as Young girl
- Cameron Cruz as Guy
- Carter Jenkins as College guy
- Daniel Yelsky as Shaun
- Rivka Rivera as Translator
- Howard S. Miller as Howard
- Cesar Garcia as Tattooed man
- David Reivers as Bruce
- David Saucedo as Hispanic man
- Jamie Lee Redmon as Teenage girl
- Aimee McKay as Beth
- Gloria Sandoval as Foreign woman
- Jacquelyn Houston as Doctor (Susan)
- Marc Cedric Smith as Pilot
- Kurt Long as Deacon
- Bill Lewis as Oldest man
- Han Nah Kim as Asian girl
- John Edward Lee as Counting man
- Fay DeWitt as Old woman
- Emilio Rossal as Mother killing man
- Kevin Sheridan as First man
- Autumn Federici as Woman #3
- Shane Spalione as Second man
- Jay Hawkins as Panicking man
The script was inspired by 12 Angry Men. Producer and star Nardelli, already a fan of the directors' webseries The Vault, became involved after they pitched the script to him. Pre-production took about three years. Nardelli said he was impressed with the script's ability to cover political, social, and psychological issues. In comparing it to Cube, he said Circle provides more answers and gives more of a definitive ending. Casting for some roles was broad, and others were specific; the intention was always to have a wide cross-section. The writer-directors did not intend for any character to be outright villainous, though several espouse intolerant opinions. Hann and Miscione wanted to address topical issues and provide a cynically-tinged, antagonistic presence for the film. Principal photography began in February 2014 and lasted two weeks. All of the scenes were storyboarded prior to shooting, and the directors tried to be as prepared as possible; regardless, they still encountered problems, as all actors had to be available for every shoot. Nardelli said that the psychological extremes experienced by the cast made it difficult to wind down after shooting.
John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called it a "Twilight Zone-y drama [that] works better than expected". Tony Kay of City Arts Online wrote, "The movie engineers suspense expertly, and there's puzzle-box fun in trying to piece together exactly what's going on as each prospective execution barrels forward." Ain't It Cool News wrote that although it is not "a fully realized concept", it is "thought-provoking" and provocative. Valeria Koulikova of the Queen Anne News wrote, "While the film's attempts to address social problems are beautifully done, leaving a bit of uncertainty in the end would have made a stronger finale."
After the movie was released on Netflix, the writers and director opened a verified Q&A on Reddit. Among the many topics covered, the writers spoke about the artistic and logistical reasons behind shooting in one room, and the benefits of using unknown actors.
- Lacson, Teaira (2015-07-15). "Beyond the Circle with Aaron Hann & Mario Miscione". Audiences Everywhere. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "Michael Nardelli". Talent Monthly. 2015-09-15.
- Cairns, Bryan (2015-10-16). "Star Michael Nardelli Votes on Who Lives and Who Dies in 'Circle'". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- Kay, Jeremy (2014-02-27). "Taggart, Votiv begin Circle shoot". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "Circle". Seattle International Film Festival. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- Hipes, Patrick (2015-09-28). "Indie Thriller 'Circle' Squares FilmBuff Deal; Drafthouse Acquires 'Klown' Sequel". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- DeFore, John (2015-06-30). "'Circle': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- Kay, Tony (2015-05-26). "SIFF Thriller 'Circle' Isn't Spinning its Wheels". City Arts Online. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "SIFF 2015: Horrorella Reviews THE AUTOMATIC HATE and CIRCLE!". Ain't It Cool News. 2015-05-28. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- Koulikova, Valeria (2015-05-28). "SIFF Cinema Uptown hosts world premiere of 'Circle'". Queen Anne News. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- Hann, Aaron; Miscione, Mario (November 5, 2015). "Discussing With the Writers". Reddit. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
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