The thriller “Circle” takes the concept of the locked-room mystery and takes it up to 11 by having 50 suspects and potential victims all in one room. Everyone stuck in this room and circle of death is always two minutes away from being killed, but also has the potential of being a killer. It’s an interesting premise that must have been very difficult to write let alone shoot with a massive cast, and for the most part it remains compelling even if the ending is a bit underwhelming.

The action opens with 50 people who slowly awaken to find themselves standing on red circles in a dark room around a black sphere in the ground. All of these people are strangers who have no idea how they got into the room, but the general concensus is aliens must be behind their abduction. In any case if anyone moves away from their designated circle they are immediately zapped by a bolt of lighting shot from the sphere in the middle, and are then dragged away into the darkness by some invisible force. There is no way to know what the bolt does, but death seems to be the obvious result.

The real kicker comes when all of the abductees realize they actually have a way of voting for the next person to get zapped. Every two minutes the laser begins to activate and arrows that only the participants can see are pointed at the remaining people. By clapping their hands at the right moment the abductees can vote for a certain person if they so choose. If they do not vote, a random person is zapped. Once the rules of the game are discovered, someone has the bright idea to select who should die, and this becomes a disturbing sociological experiment.

All of the abductees represent different ages, social statuses, and race. There are white people, black people, Asians, Hispanics, bank managers, a cop, a soldier, a criminal, mothers, students, a lesbian, and a priest. In order to gain time one person suggests the crowd votes to kill off the old people first because they are going to die soon anyway. At first most people agree, but then the question arises of what exactly counts as old? Should they draw the line at 50? How about 45? As the number of participants dwindles, people start to be targeted for other reasons such as their jobs, race, and values. Of course if you are behaving like a complete jackass the chances of you being targeted increases ten-folds.

Given the initial high number of participants involved there are no major actors involved except for Julie Benz (“Dexter,” “Defiance,” “Angel”) who plays a wife and mother who has been conveniently placed next to her husband. This gives the impression you are watching some sort of demented reality show, and of course makes you ask the question, “What would I do in this situation?” This becomes especially thrilling as the numbers become smaller and smaller, and the fact there is a little girl and a pregnant woman among the abductees.

Unfortunately for my taste the ultimate big reveal regarding the reason behind the game felt like a letdown as though writers and directors Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione could not come up with a creative resolution to their big set up. Still, sometimes the journey is better than the destination, and for the most part “Circle” is a fascinating and disturbing journey.

(“Circle” is available on V.O.D and is streaming on Netflix.)


January 12 2016

Coming completely out of left field is a new psychological horror thriller written and directed by Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione.

Described as “an intense real-time thriller which uniquely examines humanity under the worst possible circumstances”, Circle stars Saw V and “Dexter’s” Julie Benz, The Collection‘s Michael Nardelli and Autumn Federici.

In a massive, mysterious chamber, fifty strangers awaken to find themselves trapped with no memory of how they got there. Organized in an inward-facing circle and unable to move, they quickly learn that every two minutes one of them must die… executed by a strange device in the center of the room. At first the attacks seem random, but soon the strangers realize that they, as a group, have the power to decide who will be the next to be killed. A vote. A chance to control the machine. But how can they choose who deserves to die? And what happens when there is only one person left?

Circle was inspired by 12 Angry Men and “The Twilight Zone”.


April 9 2015

Posting this late but congrats Julie on the new role!

julie-havenhurst (960 x 768)

May 4 2014

NEW YORK – April 24, 2012 – Coming off Syfy’s most watched First Quarter ever in total viewers, Adults 18-34 and key women demos, Syfy and Chiller President Dave Howe today ignited the imagination of the advertising community by unveiling the next phase of the channel’s largest original programming slate in history. This will feature Syfy’s most original primetime hours ever, a record 28 scripted and reality development projects and the 2013 premiere of the highly-anticipated Defiance, the visionary transmedia experience that will unite television and Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) gaming for the very first time.

Said Howe: “Syfy’s Upfront celebrates the power of Igniters, our influential audience who has the highly coveted ability to move brands forward faster. This audience Imagines Greater and, as a result, we will be bringing them the most groundbreaking entertainment phenomenon in 2013. Nearly four years in the making, Defiance is the first ever, weekly scripted television and Massively Multiplayer Online game, converging to create a singular, interactive and epic story. Along with this unprecedented experience, we will be unveiling our most ambitious development slate ever of relevant and contemporary original programming.”

Defiance – 2013 – Defiance is in collaboration with Trion Worlds, with the Syfy series and Trion’s multi-platform shooter MMO poised to debut simultaneously. The series stars Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Fionnula Flanagan, Mia Kirshner and Oscar-nominee Graham Greene. Set in the near future, Defiance introduces a completely transformed planet Earth, inhabited by the survivors of a universal war. Forced to co-habitate, the disparate group struggles to build a new society among the devastation. The dramatic tapestry of the series and the intense action of the game will exist in a single universe where their respective narratives will inform one another and evolve together into one overall story. Defiance is directed by Scott Stewart (Legion, Priest) and written/executive produced by Rockne O’Bannon (Farscape), Kevin Murphy (Desperate Housewives, Caprica, Hellcats) and Michael Taylor (Battlestar Galactica). Kevin Murphy serves as showrunner. Defiance is produced by Universal Cable Productions.

Via Blastr

April 24 2012