Black Circle Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Synapse Films

Written and directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano
2018, 101 minutes, Not Rated
Released on September 5th, 2023

Christina Lindberg as Lena
Felice Jankell as Celeste
Erica Midfjäll as Isa
John Palm as Victor
Hanna Asp as Selma
Hans Sandqvist as Marten
Hanna Midfjäll as Isa doppelgänger


Sisters Celeste and Isa fall under the spell of a mysterious vinyl record from the 1970s. The recording is meant to ease stress and bring the listener to a calm state of hypnosis called magnetism. When the ladies suffer unforeseen side effects, they consult the woman who made the recording, hypnotist Lena Carlsson, who warns them of the sinister manifestation of a doppelgänger of whoever plays the record. Can the sisters escape their fate of being replaced by ethereal doubles or will they be lost forever?

Black Circle is the latest film written and directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano (Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf, Here Comes the Devil), and he continues to impress as a unique genre talent. This picture contains haunting imagery but is more a psychedelic psychological thriller with big ideas and a supernatural twist. The script takes inspiration in part from the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers and pursues the ideas of an uncertain reality and the plains of existence.

Felice Jankell and Erica Midfjäll play Celeste and Isa respectively, and both are instantly likeable and convincing in this increasingly twisted narrative. Celeste is more adrift and less organized than her estranged sister, who has apparently turned her life around in a very short time frame. Jankell does most of the heavy lifting, as it is through her we witness the bizarre visions and mystery. Christina Lindberg (Thriller: A Cruel Picture) is fantastic as Lena Carlsson, the woman who made the original recording for the Stockholm Institute for Magnetic Research. She is an unflappable authority figure driven to correct her past mistakes by locating and destroying all copies of her research.

Based on his short film Don’t Open Your Eyes (aka Öppna inte ögonen), Bogliano’s Black Circle is a compelling tale of hypnosis and psychological experimentation that continues to ratchet up the tension as the mystery deepens. The feature has a distinct visual style by cinematographer Dario Goldgel (Scherzo Diabolico), rich with atmosphere, and Rickard Gramfor’s haunting score complements the unsettling sound design by Lex Ortega (Satanic Hispanics).

Black Circle is a great representation of contemporary Swedish horror in the hands of a confident director/storyteller. The presence of Lindberg as the authority figure lends the film more than added marquee value, as her character is central to the carefully unfolding mystery. The film moves at a deliberate pace, slowly wrapping viewers into its creepy web, building to a satisfying conclusion.

Video and Audio:

Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, picture quality is fantastic with sharp detail and cool landscape. Colors are vibrant and frequently pop while black levels are deep. Flesh tones appear natural throughout.

The Swedish DTS-HD MA 5.1 is terrific with excellent use of the surround channels for immersive music and effects cues. Dialogue is clean and clear and optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need. The track is free from any hiss, pops or other distortion.

Special Features:

The audio commentary with director Adrian Garcia Bogliano is an easygoing, conversational reflection on the filmmaker’s influences and inspiration. There is a lot of interesting information in the discussion definitely worth checking out.

The original short film Don’t Open Your Eyes (aka Öppna inte ögonen) (2017, 11 minutes) is the inspiration for the feature and tells a more compact version of the story with a straightforward resolution. Many of the scenes are either directly recut into the feature or carefully recreated shot for shot. In Swedish with English subtitles.

An untitled interview with Adrian Garcia Bogliano and Christina Lindberg (57 minutes) takes a look back at her career and the making of this film. The conversation is in English.

Inside Black Circle (9 minutes) reveals behind-the-scenes moments on the set during production. This featurette is in English.

A photo gallery slideshow (14 minutes) features numerous production stills from film.

The original teaser trailer is included.

The original motion picture soundtrack is included on Compact Disc (18 tracks).


Overall: 4 Star Rating

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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