Circle Of Eight (2009)

FEBRUARY 10, 2010


NOTE 2/21/11 - Can someone please comment explaining where they found this review? It was posted over a year ago yet it keeps getting hits/comments all of a sudden. Thanks!

Thanks to a couple of friends, my expectations for Circle Of Eight (actually spelled Ei8ht, which is stupid and I refuse to type it that way ever again) were pretty low. And it doesn’t get off to a good start, what with a credit sequence over black and THEN a lengthy “driving to her new home” montage (with a pop song and everything) that seems like it was designed FOR the opening credits we just saw. In other words, this 80 minute movie was going to have some padding. But then it picks up, and I have to admit, I kinda dug it.


Now, let’s get one thing out of the way - the movie is light on action, due to the nature of “what is really going on”, our heroine (the Marguerite Moreau-esque Austin Highsmith) keeps stumbling upon bodies but we never see how they died. There are a couple of jump scares and the odd suspense sequence here and there, but for the most part it’s an hour or so of a girl wandering around talking to people. And clearly someone felt the same way, which is why a random, lengthy lesbian makeout/fondling scene is inserted out of nowhere near the end of the first act. Not only do we never see these two characters again, but it’s also the only scene in the movie that occurs without Highsmith being present, which makes it stick out even more. But hey, free softcore.

So why do I like the movie? Well, for starters, all of the people in the building are delightfully “off”, but not in that horseshit cutesy indie movie way. No, they’re “off” in that they say things like “I used to host a political talk show in my panties”, and wander off of elevators during tense moments and ask everyone in earshot whether or not they want half of a burrito. Another woman begins rambling about how her unborn child might resemble noodles because she eats so much Pad Thai. And so on and so on. Every 4-5 minutes someone would deliver a non sequitur that made me laugh out loud, and it bought the movie a lot of goodwill.

I also liked the twist, although it took a bit more pondering in the ol’ noggin than should have been necessary in order to fully understand it. For a movie that debuted in 10 minute segments on Myspace, they sure are asking a lot of their target audience, since the script sort of gives you the answers in vague terms and demands you piece them together yourself. I know some folks didn’t get it at all, and also, I could be wrong! But for what it’s worth, I think it meant that these folks in the building were trapped in a Groundhog Day style time-loop on a New Year’s Eve in which they all burned to death in a fire, and could only be rescued if Highsmith’s character chose to sacrifice herself instead of trying to escape (as her botched escape kept the firefighters from saving the burning residents of the building). And based on the evidence in the file room, where she is forbidden to ever go (so of course she does), they have been in this loop for 90,000+ days. Why they can’t just lock her in her room and prevent the fire from ever happening in the first place (it starts when she throws a pillow onto a candle during a lovemaking session with a guy she met earlier that day) is beyond me, but then again, maybe I am completely wrong about the meaning of the twist in the first place. Either way, it’s the only movie in which a box of identical toothbrushes is used as a plot point, so I will give it props.

I will NOT give it props for being shot in the goddamned Linda Vista Hospital though. As soon as I read the plot description (“A young woman moves into a creepy apartment building in downtown Los Angeles...”) I knew that for the 50th time in the past 12 months, I’d be looking at that goddamned church like front fa├žade. Can we PLEASE give this location (or at least its exterior) a rest, low budget horror movie filmmakers? Granted, few people are watching as many of these things as I am, but even the most casual horror fan has probably seen it in several movies by now. It zaps me right out of the movie every single time. As I joked on Twitter, I’d like to see a Battle Royale-style action movie where 30 low budget horror movie crews all show up to shoot there on the same day, and begin shooting/killing each other for the rights to film there.

Naturally, as with nearly all of the other movies shot there, there’s a special feature on the DVD about how the LV is really haunted, and how various crew members have been grabbed when walking around alone and blah blah blah. Look, I’m not saying it isn’t haunted, but maybe for once, one of these fucking crews can take the time to look into maybe ONE actual murder/suicide/whatever that occurred there and give their generic “experiences” some weight. The other two pieces aren’t much better; one’s quick look at the cast talking about their characters, including a couple who hardly even appear in the film, and the other is about the “life of a PA” on a film shoot, which would have been interesting if half of it wasn’t staged (why would the producer have the broom in his trailer?). There is a pretty funny gag that they play on the poor sap, where the DP says he needs 100 foot candles and sends the guy off to find some. Nothing beats a good lighting joke (a foot candle is not a physical thing, it’s a lighting measurement - in case the joke was lost on you). I just wish they let it go further, at one point he asks where he could buy some. I woulda sent him to Radioshack. Dumbass.

So it’s not particularly great, but it’s got some charm and a far more interesting twist than I was expecting (I really like the idea that these people have been in a loop for so long that they’ve started fucking around for the hell of it, sort of like when Bill Murray begins dressing like Clint Eastwood and robbing armored cars). You sort of have to read between the lines and draw conclusions for yourself (such as the pregnant couple’s odd statistics about childbirth - I get the idea that after 90,000 days, they’ve done a lot of obscure reading), which is sort of counterproductive when it’s a movie designed for the goons who spend all day on Myspace, but hey, it’s nice that they are trying to get kids to think while they watch a silly online horror movie.

That or the movie is just poorly written/directed. Either or.

What say you?

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. Surprised that I liked this movie as much as I did, but wish the ending hadn't been so rushed and awkward. I get the concept, but feel it could have been executed better. Still, I do appreciate the funny moments in the movie...thinking of how the super, Ed, suggests he might be a good alternative and take our protagonist out for coffee or "something harder" - which in their situation is pretty funny. Fun to watch, but low on action...all-in-all good for an early weekend horror flick (what else to stomach before noon)?

  2. The beginning of the movie is so annoying where the lead is driving to her new home and all that time she kept singing along the music and drumming inside her car, like she's all that. It's a big turn off, really.

  3. This movie was horrible. I understand she had to make a sacrificial decision to release their souls but how were they trapped, how were they released and how did they end up alive in the end??? I am smart enough to get what they were trying to say, but that message was not thought out all the way. I can't believe I paid koney to see this. Truly the worst movie I have ever seen

  4. At least it was only koney...

    I wouldve been pissed to have wasted money...


  5. It wasnt so bad. it was an interesting low budget movie. It starts with the song that somehow foreshadows the ending.Their all dead and somehow they were stuck on limbo because the lead always saved herself and just wouldnt sacrafice herself for anyone. somehow wat kept her from running was the guilt she felt do to her brothers death. As soon as she released that she was able to see and understand everything. And so she stayed with the person she loved and the other souls were released as of hers.

  6. An unreasonably long beginning (I dug the song, just not watching her drive around forever banging her hands on the wheel), crappy character development, a scene that has no place in the movie (as you said, free soft core), a plot full of holes and I'm wondering where the hell did I put the ibuprofen. This movie was so confusing and undeveloped that I even wondered at some point if the love interest was her little brother reincarnated in some sick incestual (don't know if that's an actual word and don't care at this point) way. What's worse is that this could have had great potential if they'd bothered to spend more time on it rather than just trying to make another cheap thriller. Sorry but this just was a waste in my opinion.

  7. ridiculous attempt at psychological twists. still doesn't explain why 'evan' had fire in his work before it happened, how EVERYONE in the town immediately didn't like jessica? why these 'souls' showed themselves dying in horrific ways when in fact they died in a fire? where the HELL did evan and jessica disappear to? who made this shit, i want to complain?

  8. Ha, ha - Spot on Zara.
    Where did they go in the end? For them to be found, burnt out like Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru (StarWars) would have been better.
    For them to just disappear makes no sense.

    Or did they get out maybe? Maybe for the sequel? Jesus I hope not!

  9. Movie was HORRIFIC ..stupid bad acting and painfully long start. Seriously Tommy Wiseau's the Room was better (for laughs).

    So says BatNips

  10. As someone who spent time considering the subplots behind "There will be Blood" the much-panned "Revolver" and any number of Coen Brothers films, I expected to like this. But I didnt.

    I understand that she had to sacrifice herself to save the others. I understand the relevance of Dante and its link to being trapped in hell. I also understand the relevance of it being new years eve and they are waiting for a "new era". What I dont get are the "Whys"!

    What was the relevance of the other characters? What was the link to her brother dying? Is it meant to be psycological and she doesnt actually die in reality? What was the purpose of the "love interest" if her angst was born out of failing to save her own brother? Was she already dead?

    More importantly - why did I bother?!

  11. This film was bad. I feel like complaining. I feel as if the director should be shot for this terrible peice of film making, the whole film was shit. lucky enough i didnt waste money on it but thats 80 mins of my life im never going to get back lol DIRECTOR ... I WANT COMPENSATION!!

    also how the fuck can she love this guy when she meet him 8 hours before the fire also the fire was in the apartment no one has noticed she opened the door and the fire was out side then

  12. after watching this ball achingly dull farce of a film, i cant help but feel i have wasted 80 mins watching unjustified scenes. many of the sub plots lack relevence like all the fake deaths. what is that in aid of? and where are they at the end? and if they are dead then why are the others alive? terrible end to a terrible film.

  13. It started bad......and I carried on watching in the hope it would get didnt! I agree with earlier comments....silly random sex bits that made no sense!

  14. sudden hits due to it being on Sky Anytime :)

  15. The scariest thing that about this film is that I'll never get those 2 hours back, so confusing, I thought it would have a great ending or twist as I was watching it, I totally understand the ending but it was just bad
    tons if mistakes, there was some parts I sadly liked about it, but all in all I think it comes under the category abortion. Ps that skinny guy from road trip has gone downhill doing stuff like this, do these actors read the scripts?

  16. Thank god I didn't pay to see this shit! Sky Anytime is getting shabby, this and 'Fireflies in the Garden' in the same week. Terrible. Movies.

    I only watched it to the end cause I thought they'd explain all the random crap that happened. I mean why the fuck did they stage deaths, video the whole thing, use mountain dew for paint, have projections of the fire, have fire outside the flat door, make Jessica and Evan disappear and say stupid stuff like 'anyone want half a burrito?'

    No Ed I don't, I want the last 80 minutes of my life back.

    p.s. where did the lesbians go?
    p.p.s you're not alone on the incest idea, it crossed my mind when she thought of her brother at the window!

    Rant over :)


  17. Def worse film i ever seen lol, was bits i liked but thought was going to have a twist at the end and didnt reaaly make much sense bit pointless really!!
    and to the creator of this review answer to your qyuestion above if didnt know already this is being showed on a sky channel so obviously many people bit confused like me and looking up to see if missed something but obviously didnt was just a shit film :-)

  18. Def worse film i ever seen lol, was bits i liked but thought was going to have a twist at the end and didnt reaaly make much sense bit pointless really!!
    and to the creator of this review answer to your qyuestion above if didnt know already this is being showed on a sky channel so obviously many people bit confused like me and looking up to see if missed something but obviously didnt was just a shit film :-)

  19. I watched it last night, and only lasted through to the end in order to see all explained.
    The love interest keeps saying 'it'll all make sense in the end' to the main woman, but really to all the viewers, and then it doesn't.
    I agree with what someone above said, regarding the start. A massively over-long starting credit sequence, followed by the driving scene, which was surely meant to be run as a credit sequence.
    Then the dreadful acting begins.
    I get that all the people are p*ssed with her because she keeps failing to do the right thing at the end, but why don't they just say: 'Hey, when you're screwing matey later on, don't set fire to the building, and if you do, try not to drop the cupboard on him when you're bugging out.' Or something like that.
    The staged deaths were utterly pointless, and were purely there to flesh out the dreadful waist of time. I think we're meant to assume that on another day, they wouldn't have bothered with the hoaxes, and that they'd be nicer to the main woman, but who cares?
    I'm on the web looking for answers to this film. Why did they disappear in the end? Did they escape? Why could she call the police who were driving past, and why were they at the party on the roof, and then also the first to see the fire and arrive at the scene(Right at the start?)
    Why is Ed's office in the lift?
    Why is there a completely pointless lesbian scene?
    If it's a Groundhog Day sort of thing, why are there hundreds of toothbrushes in the file room -- surely you only need one.

  20. Not only have I wasted time watching such a terrible film I've also just spent 30 mins reading the reviews to make sure I didn't miss anything obvious. It turns out I didn't. All of this because some selfish tart can't be bothered to save anyone but herself.... So pointless. The only part I agreed with was the ribbing about the name Bale, I mean WTF.

  21. how could anyone be confused??? shes obviously in purgatory. the other characters are there with her.they are all stuck in purgatory until they each atone for whatever they did wrong in life.the lead character is the only one who cant get it right.the whole new years thing is the people hoping to move on in the afterlife.Dante didnt just write the was a trilogy. read the second book in the trilogy and i think it will make more sense.

  22. Ha ha I know how you feel - after wasting approx 80mins on this I was left in utter confusion and frustration that my brain couldn't work it out!!!! Yes I did get it towards the end about her saving him but wtf - where did they go at the end and why were the others alive with the firefighters!!!!! and yes, I too have spent a good half hour reading the above in the hope that my mind can be satisfied and therefore move onto to more pressing things today but sadly not - you all agree - it was a sort of crap film and that's that!! Have to say though, my mind did need to switch off from everyday matters and this film certainly took me to another place ha ha


  24. Errrrr? Yeah? Just watched this on sky whilst the weather is really bad and it kept breaking up.The jumps in narrative didn't harm the film as it was plainly an absolute stinker.
    Aside from the female lead being easy on the eye and a shirtless male there was nothing to keep the viewer hooked (I can't believe I stuck it out?!?!)-even the 'sex' scenes had an adolescent feel to them (either that or mountain dew corporate have the sexual knowledge of a twelve year old). As to the plot: how VERY clever! I mean: who'd ever equate the number 8 with the symbol for eternity? And that person would have to be a GENIUS to make the leap of logic from eternity to eternal damnation and fiery hell for 'fraudsters' in the purgatorial eighth circle of hell as per Dante's divine comedy.(Good name for an apartment block..why not purgatorial flats?) Confused? Yeah me too. And the only way out is to fall to your death or be burned.(some choice!) What a bloody mess of a film.
    All the tennants are emotionless and stilted , and to be honest:who cares if they burn.
    I feel I'm starting to ramble , the film has that effect on you. Pip Pip!!!

  25. The only thing I liked about this picture was Evan...and his art was beautiful(and Ryan Doom, in general). The film itself was...what's the word...annoying. IMO, the script had some major flaws / holes...How in the world did it get a "green light" presented like that?

    On a more positive note, the random comments throughout were pretty old-ball, funny and
    Stephen Cragg is a fine director - for the small screen ... he's directed/produced many fine projects. Perhaps the big screen just isn't his forte.

  26. Oh BTW, I understand the Dante reference ... but the picture's demo/target audience was definitely not those that would read Dante (no offense). And IMO if the screenplay was in reference to The Divine Comedy, then I believe the writers should have included a quote from Dante (perhaps a simple 15 second still in white lettering over a black screen) to help steer the audience in the right direction - right at the beginning. I don't think there would have been as much confusion. And IT MAY HAVE even done some societal good in the current educational climate (again, no offense) by sparking the interest of those in the audience ("Hey, maybe I should read Dante...this is kind of cool").

  27. The only thing I semi-enjoyed about this random scened crappy excuse of a film was reading the comments on other people that were robbed of their time and...I feel awfully srry bout those who paid to see it...really, my condolences. The begginning made me want to kill myself, but then I thought "hey this might wind up in a pretty good twist". Then, after going to get a meal to go and taking a shower just to come back and see that girl still on her *** car singing, the twist thought took a hit but well....survived. A softcore lesbian scene out of nowhere? And a Mountain Dew ad!?!? OMG!! When I saw the bottle ON CAMERA more time that the mindnumbingly senseless les scene, I got annoyed to death, chose to shoot myself, entered a time loop in which I had to drink mountain dew to save a building, killed myself IN such loop, came back and found the meaning of life, SERIOUSLY! An AD!? GEEZ. What I'm trying to say is...plz PLZ somebody destroy this movie from all TVs and minds, thx

  28. The movie setting is in PURGATORY(dante's "purgatory"in his Divine Comedy).
    With this in mind, think and answer ur own questions u infidel!

  29. I like the movie in a weird kind of way but if shouldn't have been a low budget rush movie, I think this is one of those movies that is obvious to the blind eye but we're expecting more of a twist that we don't see the plot when its right in front of us or it could just be a pointless plot, I liked it but I would like the autho. r to explain the plot #seriously cause I'm confused and I don't get. where the hecky their bodies went, did they sheen exist I don't know I need answer smh now

  30. Considering I spent so much time watching the movie, re watching half of it just in case I missed something, doing mental gymnastics trying to figure it out, googling it and reading all the comments(and all when I should have been doing something else), I figure the film makers must have done a fairly good job. I mean, to suck us in and screw with our heads was probably their objective! My take on it is this- Dante's is some kooky modern form of the traditional idea of purgatory where people come who have unresolved issues. They are then stuck in a loop until they resolve them, however long this takes. I believe the purpose of the staged faked murders is possibly two fold. Firstly, because Jessica's journey is all about facing up to fear rather than always running away. Secondly, it was a kind of in her face statement, like lets scare the @#*% out of her and see what she does! Will she get some courage about her and work this out? Or maybe they were just messing with her head for something to do because they were bored with the repetitive futile seeming process. Throughout Jessica's 'stay' she and Evan fall in love which was also 'meant' as this love was intended to lead her to make the final sacrificial choice. Then I had a thought- What if the whole time Jessica is still under water and she has entered some alternate reality to enable her to make the right choice to save her brother? Notice during the final fire scene where she decides to stay with Evan that it flashes back to the water and she actually manages to save her brother. Or this could be a way of saying that she has finally atoned for her past mistake. Anyway, I think I like the alternate realm theory! Why Jessica and Evan could not be found in the end was either because having resolved her issue Jessica was finally freed from purgatory and Evan as well because he helped her or Jessica nips back to the other reality to save her brother! Evan is not there either because he is symbolic of her brother or he was just a guide specifically there only for Jessica. Anyway, just some thoughts...!

    1. I love this idea of an alternate reality. I am a fan of this movie - partly because it makes you think and partly because an old friend of mine (Bale) is in it. The endless loop makes sense, especially since they keep slipping up and saying things they shouldn't know yet.

  31. someone knows the first song of this movie?
    not that song when she sing in her car, not that, the first one please

  32. Well, haha.
    It's some kind of loop. Jessica loved her brother obviusly. When Jessica told Evan She loved him, I think that was the trigger to the loop, because shortly after that they discovered the fire. In order to exit the loop she had to save someone she loved and put her own life at risk, which she failed to do with her brother. If it's just a coincident that her brother died from water and Evan was about to die from fire (in the loop) or not is a question i don't think ever will be answered properly.
    But where did Jessica and Evan go in the end?
    -I think the concept of a loop is that when it's broken it starts up again from where it starts, but it's not a loop anymore. We do know that Jessica was on her way to that apartment building, so that won't change. We do know that Evan had been living there for a while when she moved in, so that won't change either. Which in that case means that they live normal lifes in that departement building. Maybe they'll be a loving couple and maybe they'll nerver even talk to eachother. What is confusing tho is that Evan seems to be the only one who can help Jessica understand how to exit the loop. Was he some kind of an angel that was suppose to lead her out of the loop? In that case he won't be present when she comes to the apartment building.

    Many questions to puzzle together after this film huh!? ;-) I wonder if im even close...


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