Absolutely First-Rate Supernatural Cult Thriller

Cults have always fascinated outsiders, often instigating fanatic devotion in their indoctrinated followers. Welcome To The Circle is a heady and otherworldly film based on a fascinating premise. Filmmaker David Fowler has crafted this year’s most memorable and unnerving thriller with an excellent ensemble cast. The white-knuckle mind trip builds a powerful sense of dread and terror, culminating with one of the best twisting final acts in recent memory.

The inspired psychodrama has a father and his young daughter stumbling upon a cult living openly in an isolated commune. At first welcoming, the father (Matthew MacCaull) quickly suspects the followers have sinister intentions for them. Learning more about the group’s vaguely New Age beliefs and mysterious founder, the father and daughter become hopelessly ensnared as the situation becomes dire. Why do creepy mannequins keep showing up all over the camp?

Welcome To The Circle takes the real threat of cult indoctrination to new heights

Having cut his teeth on nature documentaries, Fowler’s directorial debut has the hallmarks of a veteran filmmaker who knows his audience. Superbly paced, the screenplay unfolds with remarkable supernatural suspense as the surreal nature of the commune is slowly revealed. Welcome To The Circle takes the real threat of cult indoctrination to new heights, incorporating a nightmarish group that is both more and less than they appear. It’s a clever, eerily Lynchian premise that breaks new ground in horror.

Made in Canada, the cast is filled with a line-up of well-known Canadian actors. Heather Doerksen, Matthew MacCaull, Cindy Busby, Andrea Brooks, and Hilary Jardine are part of the rich ensemble cast. Special mention goes to young Taylor Dianne Robinson playing Samantha.

Few films take you on such a frightening and intimidating journey without special effects like Welcome To The Circle. The supernatural thriller is a spellbinding package of psychological suspense and intriguing cult lore. Original and daring, it is cult filmmaking at its finest that stands out with an innovative concept.

Video

Artsploitation gives the Canadian production a fine showing on Blu-ray, capably maintaining its roughly-textured cinematography by DP Stirling Bancroft without an issue. The 1.85:1 presentation is soft and almost dream-like with inconsistent definition. Fine detail is limited even with full 1080P resolution. Don’t expect razor-sharp facial detail in close-ups. Clarity is acceptable, maintaining a workable contrast. Black levels don’t exude immense shadow delineation but are serviceable when necessary.

Welcome To The Circle runs 92 minutes, encoded in excellent AVC on a BD-25. The encode transparently renders grain and texture without introducing artifacts. The soft picture quality and flat color palette doesn’t lend the video making a real impact in high definition. Artsploitation gives the indie an unprocessed transfer from the original elements with a faithful presentation on BD.

Audio

5.1 DTS-HD MA audio comfortably fits the low-budget production’s sonic needs. The dialogue-driven thriller offers solid sound design across a modest soundstage. A few modern folk songs stand out in the otherwise traditional score. Music is heard with pleasing fidelity across all channels. This isn’t a flashy surround mix, primarily limiting cues across the front speakers.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a yellow font. Secondary audio choices include standard 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital options.

Extras

Genre label and distributor Artsploitation Films provides nothing beyond the film’s trailer for the Canadian indie production. It would have been very interesting to hear a commentary from director David Fowler on his cult thriller.

Welcome To The Circle Trailer (01:51 in HD)

Dead Dicks Trailer (01:23 in HD)

Red Christmas Trailer (02:13 in HD)

Happy Times Trailer (01:49 in HD)

The Dead Ones Trailer (01:19 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Welcome to the Circle
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Powerful and fresh cult thriller takes indoctrination to the next level with gripping suspense and memorable characters.

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User Review
4.5 (2 votes)

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