Exam (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/01/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Stuart Hazeldine's low-budget British thriller is stylishly shot, nicely edited and competently acted but it fails to do anything interesting with its intriguing premise and lacks anything approaching depth or substance.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Stuart Hazeldine, Exam is a low-budget, single-set British thriller in which eight strangers are called into a room by a mysterious man known as the Invigilator (Colin Salmon) and asked to sit an exam as part of the final stage of a job interview. However, when they turn their papers over, they discover that the pages are blank, so they quickly realise they'll have to work together in order to figure out how to pass.

To speed up the getting-to-know-each-other process, the candidates quickly adopt identities based on their appearance, naming themselves White (Luke Mably), Brown (Jimi Mistry), Blonde (Nathalie Cox), Dark (Adar Beck), Black (Chuk Iwuji), Brunette (Pollyanna McIntosh), Chinese (Gemma Chan) and Deaf (John Lloyd Fillingham), since he refuses to answer anyone. It soon becomes clear that the company is a giant pharmaceutical corporation and the job has something to do with a fatal virus in the outside world, but the candidates also realise that not everyone in the room can be trusted.

The Good
The film gets off to a good start, with an intriguing, quickly-introduced set-up, helped along by a mysterious, authoritative turn from the always-excellent Salmon. However, the rest of the performances, while competent, never scratch beneath the surfaces of their obvious stereotypes and there's no real standout, either amongst the characters or the performances.

On the plus side, the film is nicely shot, courtesy of Tim Wooster's stylish cinematography and Hazeldine gets a lot of mileage out of his single location.

The Bad
The main problem is that the film fails to do anything interesting with its premise, instead getting bogged down in fights between the characters and attempts to solve the essentially meaningless puzzles thrown up by the room. Similarly, none of the characters are particularly likeable, so there's no one to actually root for, since we don't know enough to care about who wins or loses.

Worth seeing?
Exam is never less than watchable but it's ultimately nowhere near as involving or as clever as it thinks it is, thanks to its lack of depth and its failure to explore its intriguing premise.

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Exam (15)
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Content updated: 15/12/2017 06:29

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