Welcome to the Circle Image

Welcome to the Circle

By Alex Saveliev | October 12, 2020

Considering Fowler’s roots (he wrote two films prominently involving bears, Growing Up Wild and Born in China), I at least anticipated the bear attack to be thoroughly enjoyable, gritty and realistic, the centerpiece of the film. Alas, it’s all chopped-up and sped-through, and 7 of its 12 seconds take place off-screen. Fowler’s no more proficient at building suspense. A scene involving Greg fake-stumbling to snatch a set of keys is hilariously staged. In another rib-splitting moment, Sky runs into a shed after Samantha and proceed to converse with mannequins and puncture mattresses. The filmmaker never shies away from a dream sequence or a jarring montage, either, in a vain stab at creating the effect of phantasmagoria.

The acting here is so hammy, I could almost smell bacon sizzling. Matthew MacCaul’s weepy Greg wins the Most Oblivious Father of the Year Award for not noticing anything ever (sure, let’s hang out with demented cult members the day after a friggin’ bear attack). Ben Cotton does his best “William Fichtner does Batman” impression. Not that many actors could save the screenplay, as the dialogue is dreadful, written in deliberate but nonsensical circles. “So, what is this place, exactly?” Greg asks. “I assume you’re referring to the Circle,” Mathew says. “No, I don’t mean this circle right here,” Greg replies, “I mean this whole place.” “This place is the Circle,” Mathew says. “Then yes, that’s what I’m referring to,” Greg says.

“…no sense of involvement, no hook to grasp, no remotely-compelling characters…”

Here are a few more tidbits of this infuriating nonsense. “To meet Percy Stephens is to be Percy Stephens, and to be Percy Stephens is to meet Percy Stephens.” “There is no such thing as a hallucination. Everything that’s perceived necessarily exists. Otherwise, we wouldn’t perceive it.” I especially wonder how long Fowler dwelled over the following dialogue exchange: “The meaning is the message, and the message is the meaning.” “So then what is the message?” “That is exactly the question.” “So you have to figure out the meaning… of the meaning?”

Fowler proves himself as inept at directing actors, or evoking dread, as he is adept at giving cute animals a voice. Go figure. “There’s absolutely no logic or reason to it. He just makes sh*t up as he goes along,” a character states at one point, summarizing my thoughts on Welcome to the Circle. It’s rather amusing how many times my sentiments are mirrored in the feature. If I had to pick just one, I’d go with the following: “This is all very fascinating, kind of bullsh*t-sounding. Honestly, I could care less.”

Welcome to the Circle (2020)

Directed and Written: David Fowler

Starring: Matthew MacCaull, Taylor Dianne Robinson, Ben Cotton, Andrea Brooks, Hilary Jardine, Cindy Busby, Heather Doerksen. Matt Bellefleur, Michael Rogers, etc.

Movie score: 3/10

Welcome to the Circle Image

"…so hammy, I could almost smell bacon sizzling."

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