When sociopath James Bennett (Silas Weir Mitchell, Prison Break, My Name is Earl) commits a series of brutal murders before escaping a maximum security mental hospital, the FBI must team up with the U.S. Marshalls to stop him. Unfortunately Bennett is going back to his childhood home, where six graduate students are studying his surroundings for their thesis on Criminal Profiling. Aided by his psychiatrist Dr. Green (Gail O Grady, NYPD Blue, Boston Legal, Deuce Bigalow) the authorities now must unravel a sociopaths mind, ancient Greek philosophy and all before Bennett slaughters more people!
Circle features an impressive cast, Silas Weir Mitchell is nicely creepy as Bennett, Peter Onorati gives a juicy turn as a cynical, ballsy detective and the film has intense visuals and a creepy mood… --Cinefantastique Magazine
...a must watch... It s entertaining and for a low budget flick, it s way better than the remake Nightmare On Elm Street. I wish big studios made more like this. --Nerd Society
...surprises with a cast that leaves you wondering what will happen, a fun little horror flick that will spook you...It s just a good old-fashioned Thriller that is very enjoyable. --Movie Vault.com
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The problem is, Bennett has attempted this once before and it didn't work so well. In fact, all he got out of his was 9 years in a mental hospital. He tried it again this morning, and, while he didn't see any souls, he did manage to escape the institution, so the morning wasn't a total loss.
Meanwhile, there's a study group from a local college that is being sent to Bennett's childhood home in order to study his background. The group consists of three men and three women, which means that when Bennett finds them at his old home as we know he is going to do, he'll have a spare on hand for his ritual.
That is, if the cops don't track him down first. The same cop who caught him the first time is back on the case, this time with some unwanted help from an FBI agent.
My first impression of CIRCLE was, "oh, so a bunch of college kids go off for a weekend in the middle of nowhere. This should be full of interesting and original things . . ." And for the most part, the scenes at the cabin where Bennett grew up play out about as you would expect them to. The only difference between this movie and any of the other "college kids go off for the weekend" movies is that we've got about equal time with the cops as they try to track him down, plus Bennett doesn't kill them as he collects them as he's got to save them all for the ritual once he has five of them. So while we do get a break from the monotony of the cabin scenes, at the same time we're cheated out of one of the few reasons we even watch these kinds of movies: to see what imaginative ways the writer and director have come up with to kill our characters.
I imagine writer Brad Tiemann (he played "Dumpster Cop" in the Harrison Ford movie HOLLYWOOD HOMOCIDE and is a supervising producer on "Bad Girls Club") and director Michael W. Watkins (usually a TV director who has helmed half a dozen "X-Files" episodes) were trying to put their spin on the classic sub genre, but I think in this case all they managed to do was suck out the heart of the idea. We don't watch killer in the woods movies because the characters are so well-drawn or because the cops are so clever in their attempts at capture, and we certainly don't do it as a means to better understand the mind of the monster. We want to see pretty people get killed in ways we would have never thought of. And as for those "well-drawn" characters, by which I mean the usual stock of slasher film characters, we don't get a whole lot of time with them, either. There is the studious survivor girl who just looks smarter than everyone else. There's also a studious man who seems more focused on the assignment for the weekend than anyone, too, so he sort of cancels out the nerdy girl. And anyway, the nerdy girl is pregnant, so there goes "the virgin lives". We've got the token jock with the long hair and big muscles whose only concern this weekend is sex. Luckily his female counterpart is also part of their group, so it works out well for both of them. There's the man in charge that weekend, the TA who put the group together and is supposed to be leading the class. He's also the boyfriend to survivor girl and father of her unborn child. The last character, survivor girl's friend, is obviously there only because survivor girl needed to have her "I'm pregnant" moment with someone who wasn't her boyfriend, and the slutty girl was obviously not the right choice for that. So they threw in another girl whose sole purpose was that scene. Oh, and the cop is upset the FBI agent is cramping his style--also that the world exists at all, apparently--while the cop's partner is basically a glorified gopher who is constantly treated like an imbecile, and the FBI agent is super smart, super focused and dedicated to the job. Yep, these characters pretty much write themselves in these kinds of movies.
The acting was pretty lukewarm throughout with the exception of angry cop Peter Onorati who definitely hammed it up (other cop shows he's appeared in include "Blood Bloods", "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", "Castle", "In Plain Sight", "The Mentalist", "The Glades", "Rizzoli and Isles", "Cold Case", "24", "Numb3rs", "CSI: NY", "JAG", "NCIS", "Monk", "Crossing Jordan", "Walker, Texas Ranger"...jeez, just trust me, it's a lot of cop shows. The point is, he's in his element here and is one of the only interesting performances of the whole bunch).
I enjoyed the numerology aspect of the story--being a bit numbers-obsessed myself--and I think the killer had an interesting backstory (what little of it we understand), but I think the general execution of this story was lacking in anything resembling excitement or suspense. The one moment of tension comes when nerdy girl and nerdy guy start to wonder where is everyone and they step outside and the killer emerges from behind a bush and he and nerdy girl just stare at each other for a moment. Other than that, however, the rest of the movie was relatively tame.
There were also several plot holes that I felt need to be addressed. For example, they're all in a cabin and it's the size of a regular home, with an upstairs, and bedrooms, and it looks to be a decent place, but it's not like they're in a mansion with forty rooms. So when the people start to disappear, I think they'd start to notice a lot sooner, and I also think if you begin to wonder where is that guy who said he was going to get the keys out of the van . . . he's been gone an awful long time . . . You're probably not going to split up and go lay in your bed listening to music. I mean, you're in the middle of nowhere, obviously he didn't shoot down to the store for a loaf of bread. And you're in the childhood home of a serial killer . . . that alone should come with an automatic "we use the buddy system this weekend" built into it.
A couple other plot holes bothered me, but I'll let you figure them out for yourself, if you choose to watch this movie at all--and if you don't, then they won't matter anyway. Suffice it to say, there were a few of them.
CIRCLE is exactly the kind of slasher film you'd expect from someone whose background is primarily in television. It's not a bad movie at all, it's just a very tame, watered down version of a familiar story. In fact, the two shots of nude women in the movie were totally gratuitous and I'd lay money were only filmed because Watkins had that freedom this time and, dammit, he was going to use it. It's not badly done, this movie, it's just not the kind of thing people who want to watch a slasher film are looking for. Fans of this genre are going to stay away in droves, while the small audience something like this can appeal to is that percentage of the population who want to watch a slasher movie, but can't take a lot violence or gore. So if you fit into that particular group, by all means, knock yourself out with this one. I think I'll stick with my FRIDAY THE 13TH DVDs.
It's about an attractive blonde FBI agent and a rude, loud mouth cop trying to piece together the complex clues involving the whereabouts of a serial killer on the loose. WAY too much time is devoted to the FBI agent and the cop exchanging words, and the one part I found unintentionally funny is when the FBI agent finally has enough of the cops criticisms and pretty much accurately names the reasons behind his attitude issues (a divorce leading to secret drinking habits). This is funny because it seems like *all* loud mouth, arrogant cops are portrayed with the same generic problems in these type of movies.
Well the other aspect of this lousy forgettable movie is that a group of teenagers are spending time in a cabin in a woods and... surprise surprise, this is where the killer turns up. Wow, no kidding? *sarcasm of course*.
This killer isn't even that scary, and barely anything worthy of actual horror takes place. It's mostly centerned around the FBI and cops figuring out the clues, so much of the attention is on them. The movie fails horribly trying to make the teens seem important but, I say go ahead and chop them up! The lack of atmosphere is the main killer here, and the acting is bottom of the barrel as well. Really terrible film in my opinion. A must avoid.