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Eight strangers enter a room to take an exam, which will determine which one of them gets a highly desirable job. The invigilator gives them a list of rules which they must follow, and if they break any of the rules they will be automatically disqualified. They are all confused when they turn over their exam papers and realise there is nothing on them…and as tension mounts, it becomes clear that some people will stop at nothing to get the job of their dreams.

This film has everything that I enjoy – it takes place in real time, it’s dystopian by nature (we are told that it is set ‘soon’), it has a small cast, and it all takes place in one location. I was already onto a winner before I even started watching this, and it didn’t let me down! It’s a low-budget British film with a largely unknown cast (Colin Salmon plays the invigilator and Jimi Mistry plays one of the candidates, and they are the two best known names in the cast), which is in no way a criticism. I don’t know why I love films that are set in one small location, but I really do enjoy them – I suspect that it’s the claustrophobic atmosphere – a theme which is really played on in this movie.

I love films that put characters in situations that bring out either their best or worst natures and this certainly does that. Leaders emerge, people’s strengths and weaknesses are revealed, alliances are forged and broken, and people have to make life or death decisions.

As a viewer, we never get to know too much about any of the candidates. Their real names are never revealed; instead they give each other nicknames. In a few cases we may learn a little about their personal lives, but they remain as much a mystery to the viewer as they do to each other.

This film reminded me somewhat of films like Cube or Unknown – the premise is the same …a group of strangers find themselves in a situation and have to work out how to get out of it (or in this case, how to win the coveted prize). Like those films, I enjoyed every moment and it held my attention from beginning to end. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers I would highly recommend this.

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Year of release: 2009

Director: Stuart Hazeldine

Writer: Stuart Hazeldine

Main cast: Colin Salmon, Jimi Mistry, Adar Beck, Gemma Chan, Nathalie Cox, John Lloyd Fillingham, Chukwudi Iwuji, Pollyanna McIntosh, Luke Mably, Chris Carey

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