If you want to keep your budget low, one of the easiest things you can do is use few people in a closed location, one set. Cube uses this technique, and if my memory serves correctly 12 Angry Man had no other locations other than the room the jury members gathered. Saw also comes to mind, even though their were multiple sets. The majority of the movie took place in the bathroom. Exam takes places in one room, which quite quickly becomes a character in the movie like the rooms did in Cube.
In Exam a group of people is taking, well you probably guessed it, an exam. It’s part of an application for a high profile position, what position exactly is unknown to us and the participating people. Sometimes a big paycheck is merely enough to get people applying for a job. But the exam is not what they expected, and that is a good thing because looking at people taking a test for 80 minutes can hardly be called exciting. The people in the room all receive a white piece of paper, totally blank. The instructor tells them the rules of the exam and leaves the room leaving them with the piece of paper and the task to find out what the question is that they have to answer.
And with that task the viewer immediately starts participating in this exam trying to find out what said question is.
Exam is a decent movie which I have varying feelings about. It’s a movie that tries to be smart be eventually fails to outsmart the audience like several movies with twist endings did. Another failing aspect is the trailer. The trailer was cut in such a way that it looked like a more gruesome and violent story than it actually was, thus giving people a wrong idea about what to expect. The trailer has multiple shot of people being angry, shouting and tying someone up. They zoom in on the gun of the guard and all. The poster features an exam paper with a piece of blood on it, a bit comparable to the poster for the abysmal Fear Dot Com. As violent as presented it never gets as the movie is more busy trying to have the cast, and the audience, solve the puzzle. The violent bits are there and the exam actually escalates but that’s just a small part of the movie and happens only late in the second half.
Though I did not solve the answer to what the question was, and therefor not the answer to the question I did guess a couple of things right, especially concerning the CEO of the company. The actual question and answer are actually lost at the end as the movie somewhat derails. The weakest part of the movie is that it deals with some kind of disease not really explained to the audience other than that you have to take a pill on the hour. It made me wonder how one is supposed to take them at night. You can’t wake up every hour and hold a job as intensive as the one they are applying for.
The movie was not the action packed exam presented to me in the trailer, but it was intriguing. Sadly it collapses under its own weight at the end and had me going like: really, this was it? It is tightly directed and the way the room was involved into the story reminded me of Saw, but was neatly done, if not a bit overdone. The character taking the exam were stereotypes but in a rare case they actually were aware of it and gave themselves nicknames depending on their skin or hair color.
Exam narrowly graduates with a C.