My first review of the year is now up over at Den of Geek, it is of Exam, a low budget, high concept thriller that is getting a lot of attention from Empire magazine. Sad to start 2010 with something so negative, but so it goes.
Erstwhile screenwriter Stuart Hazeldine's (Knowing) directorial debut, Exam, will, no doubt, cause a lot of interest due to its high concept premise, but the ensuing film barely delivers. From the start, Exam has a tantalising set-up, using its micro-budgeted, Brit-indie restrictions to the fullest.
There are eight candidates applying for a job at a mysterious, world-conquering company. However, fittingly for such a shady institution, the interview process forgoes team-building exercises and knotted cross-analysis in favour of something a little more intense. To this end, the young hopefuls are herded into a nondescript room, and are faced with an exam, in which they are tasked to answer one question in 80 minutes. However, there's one catch: after a brief, foreboding introduction, the test-takers turn over their crisp papers to blinding blankness. With the clock ticking, what will they do? Do they work together? What is the question?
Exam is high concept filmmaking at its most basic and bold. Everything is tied into its central narrative hook - the title, the poster, the tagline ('80 minutes. 8 candidates. 1 answer. No Question. How Far Would You Go To Win The Ultimate Job?'). It is memorable and beguiling, working its way into your head with the thrill of the slightly-known, but still wholly unknown. It's an approach to cinema that has fallen by the wayside a little in recent years, and you'd have to reach back a fair amount of years to find a set up as strong as this one.
Read the full article here.