The Deadliest Mind Game – Pinkie Watches: Circle

You are in a room, the entire room is black except for a a weird small monolith in the middle. Around it are 50 red arrows, pointing to 50 right dots. On those dots are 50 people including you. If you exit your circle , the monolith zaps you and you die.  If nobody moves for two minutes, you hear a chime signal and after 10 seconds somebody dies. What is going on here? How do you survive? Soon you figure out that through a device in your hand and eye.. you can vote for who will be shot next. How do you play the room until you are the last one left? Do you even want to be the last one left or do you want to save a child, or a brave soldier? These questions are all answered in the 2015 movie Circle.

Game Night

Circle is a movie directed by Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione and “stars” Julie Benz as “the wife” Kevin Sheridan as Man # 1 and David Saucedo as “The Hispanic” man. Straight from the billing it should become clear. This is not your average movie. There is no gore, there is no story, there is no big journey of discovery. We get one room and it’s not even really a room. It’s a black set with red lights and people on it and that is it. There is no story to tell here. In fact the ending is why most people seem to hate on this movie. Here is a “spoiler” for the ending.. since it’s completely and utterly inconsequential to the rest of the movie. In fact it’s so blatantly obvious that anyone who is actually surprised by the ending I deem mentally incapable of judging this movie that I do not mind them hating on it. Here goes… it turns out.. that that black area ..with the monolith firing death beams and people, you know that room where people had invisible devices installed in their eye with augmented reality, invisible forces installed in their hands.. so that corpses can be cleaned up, it was a SPACESHIP all along.

(Defo Earth Tech)

I was so surprised it wasn’t our black liquid like metal shooting instead death beams at people. So yeah.. technically this is an alien movie. Yet there are NO aliens in this film. It’s not what it is about in the slightest.  This movie is basically just Duck Duck Goose or Cards Against Humanity..but instead of voting for the funniest person you choose who has to die. It’s all about how people play this diabolical game. How do you maximise the changes of your survival, who would you kill. It’s the trickiest and most nerve wrecking game you will ever play, and there is not a single thing more to this movie than 50 people playing that game. I like that! Aliens.. are just a flavor slapped onto that and nothing more. 

Judge Jury Executioner

This movie, which feels actually more like a publication of a thought experiment highlights how people think. I do think it nails the thought process during such a game. A lot of the the choices being made are logical, a lot of the strategies being played by it’s players are quite briljant and the conclusion was satisfactory. I felt this mental process was actually quite real. At first the group decides to pick off the oldest people, those who already have lived a full life. They had a good life, now it’s time for others. This makes sense. Yet when you cull down an age group eventually people start to rebel against the idea for simply being somewhat middle aged. They will vote differently and the strategy will have to change. Minorities fear being picked off, for simply being outnumbered. However if you start to kill on a racial basis they can never win.. so they can’t turn it into a race war either.

New strategies have to arise. The game is constantly changing, strategies are dropped when they don’t pan out but later people try again. It’s all rather well done.Never was I sure who was going to die. I would plan how I would strategise to make my own way out of this and what I came up with is not that much different from that of the winner. The movie succeeds in both showing of how cruel humanity can be , but also how our moral fiber can work against us. In a room where 50 people enter and only one can leave, in truth everyone is equal..however only very few will be able to see this.  Everyone has a bias to what people are more important to save. To one person you may be a low life that lives of the coin of others, to another person in the room you might be worthy to save because your pregnant thus count as two lives. In fact what people see doesn’t even have to be true. We see people lie, accuse others of crimes or sins.
We see people trying to condemn a lesbian..because her adopted kid would have a “less normal life” than that of other parents in this room.  We see people play the christianity card because there is a large chance people believe in god. We see atheists try to exploit that very same christianity to target sinners. 

In such a situation in actuality, genders, age, sexual preference, it all doesn’t matter yet it does. You do not face people in this arena. You face gods. Everyone has the power to smite you if you do not smite them first. The writers seem to know this very well and the outcome feels realistic without feeling forced. I think if you ran simulations the one who survived never would have one in a single simulation..but were you find their mirror counterparts 100 times over it would always end the same. Since this movie is all about the game being played and I enjoyed the game being played I can only give them great praise for making it feel so real to me.

Clue

Not everything is great about this movie though, the cinematography rarely works out as well. More often than not we miss who died, and while most of the time a offscreen death is of one of the more silent characters sometimes a major character can be killed why you still wonder “Wait who died”.
The sound is very echo-like which makes sense in the room but can be a bit harsh on the ears. We often hear critical lines of dialogue being said while we do not say who says it. Luckily I watched with English Subtitles with fixed this problems but with 50 people in the game I really would not have know who said it based on their voice alone. I would really recommend everyone watching this to watch it with English subtitles for more than one reason. Fairly soon after a woman who introduced herself by name is remorsely gunned down for blabbing she had no children, people decide it might not always be wise to talk and share. At least not names as it will only make it harder to do what needs to be done.

Thusly virtually no one is named. The way the subtitles fix this is by updating themselves. Older Woman #2 can suddenly become “Cancer Survivor”  Hispanic Lady can become “Translator” and so on. Yet many characters only begin to speak when they have to reveal something. Saying too much of course means you can say something wrong. Here is where the true strength of the movie lies.  If you play along with the game, you can find out which lines can condemn someone. You try to find who will be the last person standing based on how they play. You pick your own strategy yet you constantly read the room. However this means that his movie isn’t something you should watch to casualty. You have to at least play along a bit. Keep a focus and think about motivations a bit. The journey from point A to B (being from 50 persons left in a room to 1 )  isn’t very interesting. It’s established early on.. there is no escaping there will be one survivor.The last kill had some scary implications that actually made me shiver when I realised what just happened. Yet all of this would have been lost on me if I would watch something very casually. This movie will do nothing for you if you crave mindless action or an easy watch. You’ll have to feel like playing a game and think on who might be up to something evil

Good Versus Evil

Morality and trying to always be kind and good can sometimes be our own worst enemy. This movie shows us the need to take care of yourself..because no one else truly does so. In the second half of the movie a “good” and “evil” camp start to form, but no one truly belongs in either category it’s all relative. We see people sacrifice themselves only to have their names instantly forgotten. We see  a cleary “evil” characters who trying to vote kill a young kid, and we see that the logic and arguments he uses is completely correct. He gets a following and in fairness I would have sided with him as well. Which brings up other interesting things.

Depending on who I would have replaced in the game it could have been a totally different game. A single different vote somewhere in this game could have changed the outcome dramatically. How long can we be good in the face of death? Will being good be rewarding?  This movie poses some interesting questions and it does a great job in answering them as well. It does a great job in reflecting a randomly grabbed mishmash of people, where no one is really truly the same yet in essence we all are. How do we twist perception to suit our needs? In a way we don’t just to this in a black monolith laser death game. We do this in real life as well. Damn people for being different, take away their chances because it will give ourselves a bigger chance. In essence we are all the same, no good people, no evil people. We just play the game differently from each other, and we can not just refuse to play the game. So in the end all you really can do is play the game in the way you would play it and hope for the best.  This movie is available on Netflix! So take a peek if you are into these kind of things.

6 thoughts

  1. Wouldn’t this make an interesting role playing game live action? You need 51 people – one to play “The Monolith”, count the votes and do the “execution”. I guess you could do it with any number but the discussion would be better the more you have to choose from. You could either create characters and assign them, or let people create their own for a real variety. The concept reminds me of 12 angry men, a 1957 movie that is one of my great favorites for being a thinking persons drama. I’ve really got to see this one. Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would be an awesome roleplay though counting votes might take a while. , but It could be a great game if handled well I would agree. it would also be very interesting to see if people would vote on the character they portray or the people they are in real life.

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  2. Very nice review of the movie, I am looking forward to watching the movie myself. But I wonder if the movie is illustrating something we do all the time. Not with the same consequences as death of course but with consequences.

    Often times with people that are strangers we don’t have enough information to make a valid choice. They are all equals. But for some reason depending on the situation we have to make a choice like the people in the circle. So what do we use to make that choice? Do we let our past experience and beliefs help us make that choice by deciding who is “bad” or “good”. Who is worthy and who is not? Whose blog should I follow and which I will not follow. Who do I help and who I don’t help? Who is worthy of my time and who is not?

    So my question would not be “How long can we be good in the face of death?” but “How long can we be good in the face of life?”.

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    1. A lot of the interactions you have to discover for yourself, but I do think the movie addresses these issues. But we never get a peek in someoen’s brain other than what they say they think. But I had a blast figureing out who goes next or why did that person get taken down and such.

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  3. OMG someone else reviewing this movie, and a positive review as well! The political/social commentary is a little crass and the cinematography definitely could be more engaging but just like you as someone who loves playing Mafia/Secret Hitler the “game” element was undeniably fun to watch.

    I got to get back to working on, well I think you know but great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved the game aspect and even felt they depicted how a game between 50 strangers would go. ..like on average. at least. I am sure there would be more tollerant games or other outcomes. but on average I feel these issues would come up.

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