Main cast: Johnathon Schaech (Brian), Ashley Scott (Lisa), Victoria Pratt (Robbie Collins), Melanie Nicholls-King (Anita), Sarah Deakins (Kate), Eric Keenleyside (George Clayton)
Director: Eduardo Rodriguez
Brian is a bestselling horror novelist writing under the pseudonym “Robert Collins”. The thing is, he had only one book to his name, Blood Thirsty, and it has been one year since then and he has missed his deadline by six months. To help him regain his muse, his wife Lisa brings him to this remote cabin in the woods for a relaxing getaway. On Halloween. And yes, there is never any phone reception in that area. Really, what can go wrong?
Joining the party are Brian’s editor George and his wife Kate as well as the feisty and sassy agent Anita. Things are going well until there is a knock on the door. Two trick-or-treating girls pass them a book – The Circle by Robert Collins – before vanishing into thin air. Wait, what? And really, who on earth would come all the way here to ask for candies? And those girls didn’t even ask for candies! Still, the group become distracted by the excitement that is generated when they believe that this whole party is engineered by Brian to unveil his new book. Only, Brian hasn’t written a single word. and he in turn suspects that the whole stunt is engineered by the others to mock him for his writer’s block.
And that’s when disaster strikes. It is very apparent from early in the episode that Brian’s inability to write a single word is because his success isn’t actually his. The book was written by a woman he had an affair with, the real Robbie Collins, and once he made it big, he conveniently developed a conscience and went back to Lisa. The thing is, Robbie is a witch, and this Halloween’s night, she has something special planned for these people…
The Circle is clearly inspired by those “trapped in a cabin in the woods” movies out there, and it isn’t bad. The problem is that the whole thing quickly loses steam shortly after the first few deaths. Up to that point, the atmosphere is excellent, the cinematography is good, and Anita is a ball of fun. Brian isn’t a particularly sympathetic character, but it’s clear that I’m meant to direct my empathy to Kate instead, as she, like the rest of the guests, are just collateral damage in Robbie’s revenge plan against her husband. However, Kate is quite bland. In fact, everyone is bland aside from Anita, who is the obligatory sassy black lady stereotype, and Brian who is quite the sociopath.
But things start to go downhill eventually, as the story seems to have no clear idea of what is supposed to be an end game, and throws in an unbelievable stupid surprise appearance by Robbie, which in turn leads to an even more stupid twist at the end of the episode. By the time this episode ends, what could have been a cool horror tale has morphed into a complete headscratcher. As an episode closer to the Fear Itself series, though, it encapsulates the series as a whole: it’s neither great nor awful, just very average and forgettable.