Review: 'Exam'


Exam is a British thriller released in the UK in early 2010 written, produced and directed by Stuart Hazeldine.  Oh the joys of discovering a new film that you have never heard of before.

The film revolves around the question, "What would you do to win the ultimate job?"  Hence the tagline.

8 people are placed into a room, 4 men and 4 women.  The 8 people sit in according desks and The Invigilator, as the man is called in the film, tells these 8 people they have 80 minutes (because the movie is just a bit longer than 90 minutes) to answer a simple question.  He also tells them 3 rules they MUST obey:  If you  try to communicate with him or the guard in the room with them, they will be disqualified, they spoil (or dirty) the piece of paper that's on their desk, disqualified and if they attempt to leave the room for ANY reason, again disqualified.  Each piece of paper has the word Candidate on it with a corresponding number next to it like Candidate 1, Candidate 2 and so on to 8.

One candidate is disqualified almost immediately after the Invigilator leaves writing on their paper, "I believe I deserve.." before they are taken out of the room.
Another candidate breaks the ice by talking to the rest of the candidates and gives each of them a nickname because he doesn't want them to use their real names. (stereotypical nicknames but it works)

And then who do you trust after trying to figure out the answer to the question? Is it hidden in the paper? Is it right in front of them in the room? Is it something entirely different?  That's the film's biggest strength is that it builds and builds until it reaches it's climatic moments while not feeling cheap or fake.
Though probably the biggest problem is that some of the lines were pretty cheap and it's not really scary or thrilling, even though this is a thriller.  But it does make you think as you watch and I don't know about you but I like when a film makes me think along with the characters. It makes you feel as if you're there with them.

But with that aside, I thought the film as a whole worked well for the most part.  It made me think of what the answer was and in the end, the answer was right there all along.

The acting was really good and no one was too over dramatic. Though, the guard in the film was just stone faced the entire time. The guard character was probably the creepiest character in the whole movie.
It definitely has that claustrophobic feel to it since the entire movie takes place in one room but at the same time has some great directing by Mr. Hazeldine and great music to set the mood.

One thing I was glad they didn't do was try and give a flashback to every character ( leave that goodness to Lost).  They do give background to every character though through the dialogue and most of the conversations feel real and flow well.

Overall, the film was pretty good. Doesn't bring anything new to the table but it's a great entry into the thriller genre and a good debut by Mr. Hazeldine.  I recommend getting it on DVD. You won't be disappointed. Well, maybe slightly if you are expecting blood and gore.  Just saying...

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