Exam - Blu-ray Review

'a genre-bending delight of a British film which aspires high and very nearly reaches its mark'

Eight people, in a room, trying to answer a question that is not there. It's a simple but compelling premise for a largely simple and largely compelling film, blending together elements of other indie efforts of this ilk (Cube most obviously springs to mind) with a futuristic, sci-fi like leaning and a definite knowledge and penchant for everyday horror. In case you haven't gathered already, Exam is a genre-bending delight of a British film which aspires high and very nearly reaches its mark.

In order to pull off his single-room, real time thriller, writer/director Stuart Hazeldine needs a reliable, functional cast, one who are up to performing against a pressure more akin to the stage than the screen. He gets it, and led by a surprisingly virtuoso performance from Luke Mably, Hazeldine's ensemble are varied and convincing enough to delight, surprise and entertain. Mably's character White, is the type of self-affronting arse hole we've all met in life at one point or another, be it at a job interview or in the queue for the chippy, he's denigrating and unlikable but equally compellingly watchable, turning in a performance with presence that anchors, perhaps even drives, the piece as a whole and the characters as individuals.

Perhaps though, the problems with White as a whole spread to the group en masse. In all eight people present in the room there's no-one really to root for, no-one to delight in when they win or cry over when they fail. Maybe that's real life and Hazeldine doesn't offer us a hero because there aren't any but, whatever the reason, vast amounts of tension are lost because too many characters qualify as passive support, which we just don't care about.

Exam's other main problem is that come the end, under pressure from its almost remarkable middle third and strong setup, it's almost forced to pull a rabbit out of a hat. It tries its best, but ultimately, struggles to deliver something amazing enough to convince us that the effort that preceded it was entirely worth all the strife. When you have drama this original though, it almost doesn't matter and Hazeldine and co have produced a brave and particularly well acted thriller, that everyone can walk away from with a lot of credit.




Look further...

'Mably is compelling and the standout among the cast, as his de facto antagonist drives the action' - Rival Robot, 4/5

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