Last week, I had a night to watch videos, so I picked up The Belko Experiment and The Circle, thinking that these were completely different movies that had nothing to say to each other. One uses a decade-old script to kill off 80 people working together. The other is an adaptation of a 4-year-old book warning about internet privacy, mobs, and groupthink. Weirdly enough, these two movies have a lot to say to each other, right down to their final frames.
On a surface level, both The Belko Experiment and The Circle are about employee dynamics and how they can have extreme consequences. Belko is nothing but a morass of basic employee drama all set to a backdrop where the COO is out to systematically assassinate everybody in a ironic and feeble attempt to save as many lives as possible. Various groups, friends, and social circles use fear and intimidation to gather people to one side or another, turning it into a drawing room soap opera. But, The Circle is also about the workplace environment and how normal people use many of the same tactics to engender a cult-like sense of workplace unity and camaraderie.
But, it even gets down to the little details. In The Belko Experiment, the bombs in people’s heads were installed in a routine health from a couple months ago. They were told the bombs were just sensors for their health. Similarly, The Circle‘s Mae Holland goes in for a medical checkup and drinks a liquid whick installs a sensor that detects all of her vitals (and may also include a bomb!). In The Belko Experiment, the overlords are watching the office building through a huge variety of hidden cameras. In The Circle, they invent tiny cameras to be installed all over the globe for widespread monitoring. Both movies even end on the same shot, where the camera pans back to reveal an array of television screens, insinuating that the audience is always being watched.
Similar to a shorts programming list, movies have no control over what they’re being placed next to. Most people only take in one movie at a time, but some days its good to binge through two or three at a time. When I was sick, my mother would rent a few movies at a time, and I’d watch them in a day or two, regardless of what movies they were. These movies wouldn’t necessarily have anything in common other than they were in stock. Because they were picked at random from different aisles, few of them talked to each other in any meaningful way. But, there was always a chance.
Have there been any accidental double features that you’ve had? Have you noticed connections between random selections at the video store? On Netflix?