It’s New Years Eve and generally speaking everyone is having fun, partying and socialising. Except for the tenants at the Dante, a large apartment block. Inside a furious fire rages and as police attend the scene, someone falls from a window up high.
Cut to Jessica – happy young girl. She’s on her way to the Dante, moving in as an attempt to escape from past events and start anew.
She isn’t there long before she realises that there is something odd about the place. The other tenants seem nice, but a tad eccentric.
There’s the creepy caretaker, the skinny guy who likes to film people, the young couple who seem to have commitment issues, another couple who are excited awaiting the arrival of their child. Oh, and a troubled artist who Jessica instantly takes a liking to.
If it wasn’t enough that Jessica’s new neighbours do weird things like walking in on her while she’s in the bath or bursting into her apartment to shove a camera in her face, they also keep saying strange things, making weird references and generally acting like they’ve known her for years. If you’re guessing that this is going to take a Shining-esque twist, you might be right.
The hunk, Evan, keeps asking Jessica to trust him and says that there are weird things that happen in the building. But he isn’t very supportive when Jessica is convinced that she has seen one of the other tenants murdered.
It is at this point that the Circle of 8 takes a turn for the worst. After fooling the audience into thinking that this could be a tale of murderous ghosts or a building that’s cursed, and after creating enough mystery to draw the viewer in, the plot unravels.
The sensibility in the film just drains away. Jessica manages to flag down some police who come in to check out the ‘murder’ but when the body appears to have been moved, they assume that she is just drunk – with little or no evidence of course.
And although Jessica has never suffered from vivid hallucinations of dead people before, she’s more than happy to accept that it was probably her ‘imagination’.
After a moment of passion with the hunk (they have literally known each other for about two hours, but who am I to judge), Jessica heads back to her place and sees another of the buildings inhabitants dead.
Again, Evan is there to support her and assure her that she’s just tired. And when this body vanishes too, rather than assume that there is an evil killer at work, or that someone is playing a horrible practical joke, Jessica just carries on, trying to figure out what is going on. Really she should be running out of the building and far, far away.
Circle of 8 is basically Groundhog Day with ghosts. Although they might not actually be ghosts, it’s hard to tell.
Much like Jessica, it’s easy for the viewer to feel confused and ask things like “why did that happen?”, “why doesn’t she just leave?” and “why are we still watching this rubbish?”
Circle of 8 is one of those films which actually would have sounded good on paper – probably. This is no doubt how they managed to get the funding for a good cast and high level of production.
But it would seem that the idea was lost in that translation from text to film. Jessica’s reactions are far too unrealistic and the attempted ‘clever plot devices’ are amateurish and disappointing.
The end result is a film that is particularly unexciting and bereft of scares.
And the twist at the end, rather than giving the viewer a sense of satisfaction, leaves them feeling like they have been slapped accross the face. It’s insultingly bad.