Single-location movies can be incredibly powerful and effective if done right. Just remember how good Rope is or The Man from Earth. Exam is an intelligent and thought-provoking psychological thriller set in a single room and follows eight candidates doing whatever they can to get a job. It certainly takes shots aimed squarely at the corporate culture driven by late-stage capitalism. However, most of the movie is a potent blend of psychological characterization and the mystery surrounding the point of the whole exam.
You’ll be trying to figure out what’s the correct answer here along with the rest of our cast. Gemma Chan (Humans), Pollyanna McIntosh (Let Us Prey), and Colin Salmon (Resident Evil) are the only three vaguely familiar faces but this doesn’t mean the acting is bad. On the contrary, the acting was excellent. And it needed to be because Exam is a movie that heavily relies on the actors to create the atmosphere and everything else. Remember, the entire movie is taking place in a single room. So, there won’t be any shootouts, chase scenes, or anything like that. But there will be action and plenty of suspense. And that’s all I’m going to say.
The important thing is not to reveal too much. I have to say that the initial premise of eight candidates trying to solve this puzzle is mighty powerful. The dialogue was excellent for the most part and the conversations are quite believable. Of course, towards the end, the movie started running out of steam and had to end things hastily. However, by that time you’re already thoroughly entertained and the finale was quite good. So, Exam is definitely a movie worth watching. Especially if you like single-location movies.
And I do freaking love them. I think that Cube, although technically not a single-location movie was the first one I fell in love with. The thing that I appreciate the most is all the effort that went into planning a movie like this. You have to be extra careful with the pacing to keep the viewer engaged. Your characters must be fleshed out and act in a rational manner. And on top of all of that, your camera work must be flawless. It’s a tall order, alright, but it’s clearly doable as we can see with our own eyes.
Of course, since Exam came out just a couple of years after the huge success of another single-location movie, Saw, we have to talk about the gore. To put it quite bluntly, there’s none. Exam is a psychological thriller and there won’t be almost any graphic scenes. You can watch it as a passenger, not trying to figure out what’s exactly going on or you can form your own theories and answers. It’s fascinating to watch how far people are willing to go to get the job they want. And you can bet your ass that all of the people in that room have their counterparts in the real world.
Speaking of that, I also have to mention that Exam is taking place in the near future. It seems like things are about the same level of shitty so no major changes there. It’s a bit strange that Stuart Hazeldine didn’t release a new movie for almost ten years. And when he did, it turned out to be The Shack, a religious single-location thriller. I can’t recommend it as it feels just too sappy, melodramatic, and contrived for my taste.
Director: Stuart Hazeldine
Writers: Stuart Hazeldine, Simon Garrity
Cast: Adar Beck, Gemma Chan, Jimi Mistry, Luke Mably, Chukwudi Iwuji, Pollyanna McIntosh
Fun Facts: The entire budget for the movie Exam was just $600,000. It’s proof that you can make an excellent movie without the need for millions and millions of dollars.