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'Exam' Movie Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating
User Rating 4 Star Rating (1 Review)


'Exam' movie poster
Sometimes the best movies are the simplest ones, and the British thriller Exam is about as simple in concept as its minimalist title implies. But behind the basic concept lie complex thrills.

The Plot

In a sterile gray room, eight applicants for one of the most prestigious jobs imaginable are gathered for a test to determine which one should receive the coveted position. They’re given a quick rundown of the rules by a stern administrator (Colin Salmon): they have 80 minutes to answer a single question. If they communicate with the administrator or the guard at the door, they’re disqualified. If they leave the room, they’re disqualified. If they "spoil" their test paper, they’re disqualified. And lastly, there is no law in the room. The only laws are the rules.

When the timer begins, the applicants turn over their papers to reveal...nothing. It becomes apparent that they'll not only have to figure out the answer, but also the question. They decide to cooperate, but how far can they trust each other? As secrets emerge about the candidates and the company, the test devolves into suspicion, trickery, sabotage and violence, and all the while the clock keeps ticking away...

The End Result

Exam is one of those confined-environment "concept films" that relies heavily on character interaction and plot twists to keep it fresh. Luckily for us, those elements deliver in spades. Its basic storyline unfolds to deliver an ever-increasing complexity that fills in the blank slate with which we begin the movie: Who are these people? Why do they want this job so badly? How far will they go to get it? What does this company do? Even without the ever-looming test question, there's plenty of mystery here to keep us intrigued.

With the intimate one-room setting and real-time action, there's a warped play-like feel to this tale that helps draw the viewer even closer into the plot. Twist upon twist is doled out throughout the 80 minutes; you might be able to guess one but probably not all. The final outcome isn’t quite as delicious as the build-up, however, as the believability factor dwindles with the increased stakes.

Still, the cast of largely unknowns (at least in the US) performs well, and first-time director Stuart Hazeldine displays great skill in making a one-room tale with limited action feel like a thrill ride.

The Skinny

  • Acting: B- (Solid all around; they have to carry the load, with minimal action.)
  • Direction: B (Great cinematic flair for generating thrills.)
  • Script: B- (Great setup, nice twists, intriguing characters; loses its grasp on realism near the end.)
  • Gore/Effects: C+ (Not much needed.)
  • Overall: B- (An engrossing psychological study of human nature.)

Exam is directed by Stuart Hazeldine and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: July 23, 2010 (on demand).

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 4 out of 5
EXAM,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Member Nasirkalwar

Do not speak to the cameras, or the guard, or you’re gone. Do not leave the room, or you’re gone. Do not destroy your exam, or you’re gone. Rules were very strict but the movie was suspicious and full of twist with low budget ,very wonderful performance by the candidates including the other people behind the curtains.

1 out of 1 people found this helpful.

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