MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Sociopath James Bennett (Silas Weir Mitchell) escapes from a mental institution and continues the series of ritualistic murders that he was originally tried for. The FBI teams up with the U.S. Marshals to catch the killer. Meanwhile, a group of students go on a retreat to study this killer, only to have a dangerous run-in with him.
WHAT I LIKED
The set-up to “Circle” works to a degree. It’s a pretty standard psycho killer backdrop, and there’s a bit of a mystery mixed in there. This gives the movie a little more depth than your standard serial killer story. It’s not a great mystery, and if you think hard enough, you can figure it all out. But at least the movie gets points for trying.
There’s a real mix of a serious police procedural and a teen sex romp thrown together. I did appreciate the modicum of nudity that we get in the film, but at times it just seems out of a place for an otherwise serious storyline.
As direct-to-DVD movies go, I’ve seen a lot do less with more, so “Circle” has some nice twists to it. Though it does feel like two different movies mashed up together.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While the concept and acting isn’t that bad (well, except for the cops in the film), the writing just feels half-baked. I’m not sure if the screenwriter just phoned his part in or if he just wasn’t a good writer. As previously said, this movie doesn’t quite work as a police procedural because it gets mixed up with the college sex film happening along with it.
Ultimately, I didn’t like any of the heroes of the film. The college kids were all either pointedly shallow or two dimensional. The cops were cardboard cliches. And the guest stars like Gail O’Grady as the doctor in charge of the mental institution or Silas Weir Mitchell as the killer were underutilized.
There is a decent if not full-of-itself and self-congratulatory behind-the-scenes featurette included on the DVD.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of low-budget police procedurals.