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Welcome to the Circle

USA 2020
produced by
Michael Khazen, Sam Vincent, Andrew Francis, Jeff Renfroe, David Fowler, Mack Benz for Antidote Pictures, High Deaf Productions
directed by David Fowler
starring Matthew MacCaull, Taylor Dianne Robinson, Ben Cotton, Cindy Busby, Hilary Jardine, Andrea Brooks, Matt Bellefleur, Heather Doerksen, Spencer Drever, Jordana Largy, Michael J Rogers, Christian Tessier
story by David Fowler, Kate Decrosta, screenplay by David Fowler, music by Reid Hendry, songs by Jo Krasevich

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Greg (Matthew MacCaull) and Samantha (Taylor Dianne Robinson) are on a father-daughter camping trip - but are somehow saved by three lovely ladies, Rebekah (Cindy Busby), Sky (Andrea Brooks) and Lotus Cloud (Heather Doerksen) who take them to their little village in the middle of the woods to nurse them back to health. Samantha immediately likes it in the village that's weirdly enough populated by more mannequins than actual people, and she starts wearing a mannequin mask, but Greg soon gets the feeling there's something very rotten here, and eventually he learns the village is the headquarters of a cult called the Circle, led by elusive leader Percy. Eventually, snooping around, Greg witnesses the camp's fisherman Michael (Christian Tessier) being torn to pieces and devoured by other cult members, which is when he decides to grab his daughter and make an escape no matter what. But the escape is cut short when she refuses to accompany him and instead runs back to the camp, and when he goes after her, he somehow stumbles into the inner sanctum of the Circle, the secret cabin of Percy - who just happens to be Michael come to life again. After unsuccessfully trying to persuade Greg to come over to their side, Percy sees it that Greg is punished and killed, which Samantha gets wind of - and somehow she can make an escape, using her mannequin faksimile as a decoy.

At the same time, Rebekah's husband James (Matt Bellefleur) and sister Gabriella (Hilary Jardine) have hired private investigator Grady (Ben Cotton) to track her down and persuade her to come back to civilisation. Problem is, James and Grady don't get along one bit, and everything just seems to be just a game of alpha male, leading to the group to split up just before things get dangerous, and Grady, who has grown up inside the Circle, suddenly has all hands full keeping his clients out of the Circle's reach while not falling himself for its lure, with the only person who can help him being Samantha, who has the ability to see through the Circle's facades while building up some of her own ...

 

Now admittedly, this movie demands quite a bit of suspension of disbelief, to a point where reason is to be abandoned altogether, as the backstory of the cult in question is very, erm, esoteric, to a point where the film's "reality" becomes a matter of interpretation, for the film's characters as well as the audience - and exactly that's what makes the film work like a charm, as its creepiness lies not just in its rather outlandish ideas but also in what the viewer makes out of them, and however one might put them together, they leave one with a feeling of unease. And the direction only helps in that, as it often playfully shifts between light-footed, gruesome and deceptive (and back), never failing to irritate. And all of this is sure to leave an enjoyably eerie aftertaste in your mouth ...

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD