Exam, Directed by Stuart Hazeldine, 2009
Exam is only tangentially a sci-fi movie, and the reasons that is the case are subtle yet best left-unexplained given that much of Stuart Hazeldine's film succeeds based entirely on the enigma of the script. Eight sharply dressed job candidates are walked into a windowless room. They are told by the invigilator that they are being given eighty minutes to derive the correct answer to a question. What's the question? No one knows. That is for the candidates to figure out, but if in doing so they break a number of rules (they can't "spoil" their single sheet of paper, they cannot attempt to communicate with the guard or the unseen observers, they cannot leave the room), then they will be immediately ejected from the exam.
I have such an affection for movies that are set entirely within a single room that it's practically in my genes to like a movie as spatially confined as Exam, but Hazeldine's script is strong enough to attract even those who don't already love this niche. In fact, Hazeldinewas nominated for the Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer BAFTA earlier this year. He didn't win, but it's certainly a nice hat tip to how promising of a filmmaker he is. It's not easy to keep a 90-minute run time brisk when your players spend the entire time talking in a single room, but Hazeldine keeps things interesting with a mixture of strong characters and properly measured discoveries. I'm a little disappointed that things don't go out with a bigger bang, but the mystery is fascinating even if the payoff isn't as mindblowing as one may expect.