Few months ago, I wrote about a mathematical thriller in Spanish that contained a bunch of good ol’ classic riddles, but appealed to me due to the premise: four mathematicians are locked in a room, and they have to solve puzzles in order to stay alive; if they fail at solving a puzzle in 60 seconds, the hydraulic walls move inward to shrink the room and reduce their chances of survival. I watched another movie recently that reminded me of Fermat’s Room: Exam.
This psychological thriller revolves around eight job applicants in a windowless, guarded room. A pencil and a “question-paper” is provided to each of them, and they have 80 minutes for the exam. Only one of them will join an esteemed rank in a big organization. The instructor announces the rules of this exam (“If you try to communicate with myself or the guard, you will be disqualified.”, “If you choose to leave the room for any reason, you will be disqualified.” etc.), starts the stop-watch, and leaves.
The candidates exchange puzzled looks with each other, turn over their question-paper to see the question, and find it completely blank!
The rest of the movie is about how these candidates collaborate, co-operate, confront, combat and conspire against each other to win the esteemed position. The direction and acting performances were modest. The basic premise and the motives of the candidates did seem stretched beyond plausibility, but the mystery and psychological drama kept me intrigued. I enjoyed watching Exam for the same reasons I liked Fermat’s Room.