12.20.2010

Exam (2009): Highly original and thoroughly engaging



Every now and then I come across a trailer that causes me to stop everything and jump on Netflix to move the film to the top of my queue. This happened after watching the trailer for Exam, which I will share with you now...


While this isn't really a horror film, it's definitely something I think you'd all enjoy. It has plenty of horror elements and it relies heavily on suspense (hey, I just talked about this here). Exam's premise appears to be simple and that is the genius of it. 8 candidates for an extremely competitive position are in the same room. There is a test, of which they have 90 minutes to complete, and there is only one question. The only problem is no one can figure out what that question is. How far will each job-seeker go to uncover the question and eliminate the competition? Apparently, pretty far.

"Umm, could we get a question up in here?"

The film opens to a fantastic sequence of close-ups, all revealing tiny details about the candidates as they prepare for their final step towards obtaining a dream job. Just like the rest of the film, Exam shows without telling - using small character traits and acting moments to speak volumes about these people we know nothing about. Once all the candidates enter the guarded and sealed room, the proctor delivers a strict, yet bizarre, set of rules for the examination. They are informed that there will be one question before them and it will require one answer. After he leaves the room, the first moment of panic sets in for the candidates. Blank papers sit before them. Where is the question? 

Meanwhile, the timer is ticking. 90 minutes to answer the question. The candidates work together, as well as against each other, in real time. And it's incredibly interesting. The diverse group of highly intelligent individuals start to poke and prod their way through the room, attempting to find a question hidden under objects or discover a UV light that may reveal the question. The battle of wits is punctuated by terrific acting and writing. Just as the characters are guessing, so is the audience. At every moment, I was thinking about what I would do (and wouldn't do) in their situation.

"This is way worse than when I farted during the SAT."

As the time whittles down, so does their threshold for rational behavior. The film quickly propels towards paranoia and violence, as the world of ethics and morals begins to fade away under the haze of isolation. To say much more about the film would ruin the fun, so I'm going to leave this review short and sweet.

To summarize: Very highly recommended! An original film executed wonderfully.

5 comments:

  1. Hot damn! I checked out the trailer for this a couple of months back and hadn't heard much about the film since.

    Thanks for letting us know its on Netflix now. Bumping up ASAP!

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  2. I just watched this and I found it entertaining. It might make my top 20 list. Just a solid human character study ala Cube and The Killing Room. Going to review this myself!

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  3. Ummm... so, say if I didn't feel like actually watching this, but wanted to know what the ending was, would you be willing to email me the answer? (and I suppose "the question", too?) :)

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  4. Cortez, yes go to Netflix NOW!!!!!!!! Curious to see what you think.

    Nick, lol..right.

    jaded, Yeah I think I liked it even more than Cube.

    Astro, No dice. That would be betraying the filmmakers, wouldn't it? Haha, not really, but I'd like you to see it. I suppose I could email you if you have a good reason for not watching it.

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