Circle of Eight (2009), a suspense thriller that originally appeared as a multi part "movie" on MySpace, is a very oddly paced, surrealistic journey that makes almost no logical sense. Set in a gloomy apartment building (actually a former hospital), the film features some weird and creepy characters that initially may raise your curiosity, but as the story progresses, they tend to become increasingly irritating, as you get the uneasy feeling that the movie will not end very well. Sponsored by Mountain Dew, the production also includes some interesting product placement.
It's New Years Eve, and Jennifer (Austin Highsmith) is moving into an apartment building called the Dante located somewhere in LA's art district. She arrives in reasonably good spirits, but that soon changes when she meets Ed (John Bishop) the building's creepy manager, who operates from a desk located inside a freight elevator, and cryptically warns Jessica not to enter the file room.
Jennifer enters her eighth floor apartment, and almost immediately begins receiving visits from what seems to be nearly every resident of the building. The parade includes Randall (D.J. Quails) is a nerdy type, who walks around with a video camera, because he is filming a documentary of the building. India (Natashia Williams) a model, and her boyfriend Damon (Jesse Johnson), drop by to invite Jennifer to a party that will be held on the roof later that night. Bale (Josh Kelly) and Elaine (Katie Lowes), a married couple who are expecting a child, also stop by to say hi. And rounding out the group of eight is Evan (Ryan Doom) an artist who finds Jennifer in the bath, after entering her apartment unannounced, and seems overly concerned that Jessica understands that she can trust him.
There is tragedy in Jennifer's past. As events unfold, almost nothing she does makes any logical sense, as she sees the dead bodies of her neighbors, which then mysteriously disappear. She visits Evan's apartment, and is so impressed by his unusual artwork, that she finds herself flat on her back on his light table, with Evan on top of her, when he abruptly changes his mind about making love.
While visiting the off limits supply room, Jessica discovers a clue to what may be happening. With increasing frequency, Evan shows up wherever she turns. All this madness builds up to not one, but two endings to the film. Listening to the awful dialog twice, and experiencing some terrible acting is an ordeal, but at least there is a resolution to the story, although it may be unsatisfying.
Circle of Eight is a curiosity that veers away from reality early, and never attempts to get back. Little that happens inside the Dante makes sense, and the film generates more feelings of frustration and exasperation, rather than scares. With a cast of eclectic and often irritating characters, this film will probably be a major disappointment to those looking for straight horror or suspense. The issues lie squarely with the writing, rather than the actors.
The plot gets maddeningly repetitious at the close, as Evan appears again and again, sprouting the most insane dialog. Although the actors may have had a blast playing such goofy characters, the result is not as enjoyable for the viewer who is presented with a weak story, and insubstantial characters that you have little reason to care about. Production values are decent, contributing to a rating of 2.5 stars.