After a nicely handled 'snapshot' introduction to them going about a few seconds of preparation, we are introduced to the eight ambitious candidates as they take their seats for the titular Exam. Colin Salmon makes a suitably harsh speech as 'The Invigilator', laying down some ground-rules, and then leaves, only for the candidates to try to address the first question of the exam, and find themselves utterly stumped. The rest of the film is a tense, very well written suspense piece as the candidates try to work out how to pass the exam, and power struggles erupt between the members of the group. The set design is nicely and cunningly handled, their seemingly boring one-room location offering a few unexpected surprises, and the characters themselves are a frequent delight, with Luke Mably's 'type A' personality 'b*stard' giving a truly memorable performance of bravura. It's a consistently interesting and engrossing thriller in which the character reveals and speculation needed to propel the plot are divulged at just the right moments to keep the momentum fast, and to throw in doubt and suspicion exactly when needed. Some cunningly nasty and mean-spirited tricks are played, and the characters' actions all feel believably driven by their personality types.
The ending was something I found immensely satisfying and a nice twist from the norm, and although some of the reasoning behind the events feels a little flimsy, it works in its context.
An extremely good tension thriller.