Case Number 15378: Small Claims Court


Cinema Epoch // 2008 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 8th, 2009

The Charge

When animal instincts crawl to the surface!

The Case

Gene (Sherman Koltz) has been dead from nearly 20 years, but that doesn't mean he still can't drive around the desert in a pickup truck. Trapped in an odd sort of arid purgatory, Gene bounces around the interstate, killing time before he reincarnates as a spider or something. His travels bring him into contact with a woman (Yvonne Delarosa) who's in a similar situation. The victim of spousal violence, she's on the run from her deranged husband and she too is having bizarre visions of turning into an insect. For her, it's all about a caterpillar/moth. Together she and Gene go on a cross-country misadventure, peppered with violence and hallucinations and sand.

As you can probably tell by that synopsis, Circulation is a...different kind of horror movie. Despite its weirdness, the film avoids a downward spiral into pretentious oblivion. It comes close, what with all the animal hallucinations and such, but director Ryan Harper manages to maintain a steady storytelling hand through the bizarre conceit.

Circulation is essentially a road movie, as in, the two characters spend a lot of time driving on the road. Since Gene's companion doesn't speak any English, that makes for a largely mute trek. Which is fine, because Circulation could easily be considered a silent film. In fact, aside from the narration at the beginning and the end, courtesy of Gene, which thankfully orients the viewer as to the world Harper has created, everything else could easily have been told through visuals.

Though the out-there premise isn't a mortal wound, what might keep viewers away from the film is its pace. There are long stretches where not much seems to happen. Splashes of action -- most notably Gene taking out some purgatory cannibal ghouls in the desert -- help break up the monotony, but it's not enough. Circulation struck me as more of an hour-long or perhaps an entry into a horror anthology instead of a work with legs enough for a full-on 90 minute feature.

Still, I can appreciate the uniqueness (I've never seen anything like this), and the acting is very good. The setting in Baja makes for a sweaty, barren wasteland of a setting, and fits well the whole afterlife/horror thing.

The DVD is fine: a solid 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and two audio tracks (2.0 stereo and 5.1) are supplemented with an interview with Ryan Harper, audition footage and a selection of still galleries.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile
Studio: Cinema Epoch
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Director Interview
* Still Galleries
* Auditions

* IMDb