You never really know somebody unless you’ve been along side them in a working environment; anyone that’s worked in a dead-end, minimum wage deal can tell you that. That cool guy everyone likes is lazy, that sweet shy girl is a back stabbing, backside licking, harpy, and that weird kid that nobody took much notice of, turns out to be a hard-working, oasis of calm in the chaos of a working environment.
That’s why The Apprentice is so addictive. All those people you hated at work, all those crazy personalities that make your blood boil are magnified, put under the social microscope in a competitive environment that’s been specially formulated for the sole purpose of allowing the general public to watch them commit professional suicide on-screen.
What’s not to like about that?
Now if you’re one of those TV snobs that considers shows like that to be the thinking viewers reality show, I personally, really can’t see the difference in watching individuals implode for our benefit whether you’re a starry-eyed teen with no vocal talent dying on stage in the X Factor, or a Armani suited investment banker spouting cringe worthy sound bites while begging not to be given the boot for a job they didn’t have in the first place.
The Exam puts eight strangers in an interview situation that combines those lovable wannabe megalomaniacs from the Apprentice, with a smidgen of Survivor and a light peppering of Saw to produce a pretty decent low-budget psychological thriller/horror. The candidates are gathered in a room furnished with eight desks with their exam papers on, and watched over by an armed guard (typical interview situation really). They are informed that they will be disqualified from the process if they communicate with the guard, the powers that be, or spoil their papers in any way, and are given eighty minutes to complete the test. Now go and show your true colours you wild and crazy interviewees.
This is a very slick and intelligent British film, with a very capable cast, that keeps you interested until the very end, despite the lack of ‘action’ and violence. The script was very well written, if a bit too drawn out in parts, but the claustrophobic atmosphere and intense characters are extremely engaging, far surpassing the expectations given by its low-budget and short run cinema release.
For those willing to overlook a relatively blood free horror film, you really are in for a rare treat, as this foray into psychological experimentation manages to prove that violence isn’t always the best form of torture.
Although, its good to know that however you’re doing it, torture will always be entertaining.