I’m a fan of workplace horror. I think there is nothing scarier than monotony. The more mundane something is, the more alarming things are when they go off the rails. There are a ton of great movies that capitalize on the inherent threat of big business. Not all big business is bad, of course, but all the pieces are in place for exploitation and abuse. Films like The Belko Experiment take this simple idea and expand it into a vast conspiracy of interlocking agencies and obscure motivations. The little-known 2009 UK import review is one such film type.
Eight applicants sit in a bare, dark room and are told they are on an exam to earn a job. Very precise but simple rules are given to them. Stay in this room until the test is complete. Don’t talk to the guards or anyone outside the room and don’t destroy your test. If you succeed and follow the rules, you get a contract with the company and the keys to the kingdom. Failure is not an option. From the panicked look of someone who fails early, failure probably means more than not getting the job.
One by one, the candidates fail. Many fail by accident and others by manipulation. Each person in the group has a reason for being there. We have a loved one who desperately needs medication. Another is a narcissistic madman who masks illness. Yet others have ulterior motives that only become clear at the end. As time ticks away and tempers heat up, the group turns on each other. Everyone suspects everyone and things go from bad to worse. Here is everything you need to know about the exam and what was the question and answer?
What is the exam question?
The opening monologue is more than meets the eye. It deserves its own examination. The overseer or overseer of the Americans tells them that he knows they endured hardship to get there. He further explains that the struggle was necessary because if you can’t handle the hiring process, you can’t handle the job. This begs the question, what have they been through already and what is the work? The plaintiffs speak of a pandemic that is raging outside the walls of the company. They all seem desperate to work for this company.
Nobody gets names. Instead, they refer to each other by physical attributes and commercial beards. They don’t see themselves as anything other than competition. For a brief moment, they cooperate, but nothing works. Some don’t want to hurt anyone or play unfairly, while others have no problem getting their hands dirty. One by one, their numbers dwindle until there are only four and ten minutes left to answer the single question.
There is only one question and one answer on the exam. White is right. Occam’s Razor is the key to unlocking everything, but they’re looking in the wrong place. A question was asked at the very beginning: “Are there any questions? Indoctrinated to seek more complex answers, the group rejects this simple answer. Like confirmation bias, the group is defined by their experiences. They are doomed to be locked into what they know and believe about themselves. White is a fighter and is used to having to scrap to survive; thus, he thinks there can only be one winner and he must get rid of everyone else to claim the job. Dark hides behind his intellect but hides terrible insecurity and mental pain. Black wants to defuse the violence as much as possible but ends up getting shot.
The clues were everywhere if anyone could get out of their head and avoid paranoia long enough. Deaf looked panicked but was right about the question and the answer. “Seeing clearly is all” What he should have said to be more clear would have been “hearing clearly is all”. At the end, Blonde sees the words Question 1. while looking through Deaf’s glasses and a piece of broken glass. She now realizes that the only question was known all along. With seconds to go, she took her paper to Deaf, the company’s founder, and said “no.”
How did Blonde get the job?
At the end, the clock was sped up and White thought the time was up. In reality, there were twenty-two seconds. He broke a rule by talking to the Powers That Be before the test was over, not to mention he didn’t have the right question and answer. If at any time the only question asked was answered orally or in writing, they would win the job. It’s like a test that lists instructions and questions, and the teacher says to read the whole test first. After taking the whole test, the last question says if you have read everything, first write your name at the top and nothing else and hand it in.
The single question is the most obvious, which is why the group ignores it. “Questions?” said the Warden. Our group was so lost in the competition and in their intellectual minds that they forgot to actively listen to their instructions. They heard what they thought was important, not what was necessarily significant. If someone had been paying attention, they could have answered at any time with a simple “no” or even a question, and the review would have been over and the work rewarded for the respondent.
The company was fierce, but they weren’t killers. Those who were eliminated were not murdered and the gunshot did not kill Black. One of the company’s discoveries is a drug that rapidly regenerates tissue. Black had taken this drug and therefore the shot did not kill him. Hearing this, Blonde accepted the job. Because she was detail-oriented and level-headed, she could see the answer and get the job.
In many ways, it reminded me of the brilliant but macabre Canadian cult film Cube. People are imperfect. It’s the only constant. We are our own worst enemies. Sometimes you have to see the forest for the trees.
Tracy Palm Tree
As the editor of Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the editor.
The 2009 Post-Review Movie Explained – What Was The Question? appeared first on Signal Horizon.