When the multiplex norm is a chaotic arrangement of universe-building, sequel-forming blockbusters, there is something so precision and joyous about the arrival of a single location thriller.
Delicately dialling with clockwork tension, these finite and fast-paced pictures usually feature a minimal cast, occupy a breathless runtime, and ask the audience to not only witness the unravellings of a nightmarish situation, but live it.
10. Exam (2009)
The true beauty – and indeed bravery – of this micro British thriller is how it occupies the environment to actively build fear. With a tight cast only named by their ethnicity or profession (The Guard, The Invigilator et al), the audience is forced to invest with these strangers in real-time, whilst fundamentally knowing nothing about them at all.
Stuart Hazeldine’s film follows the final eight candidates in line for a highly desirable position at a corporate company. Locked together in a windowless examination room, they are issued with a test consisting of a single question. The seemingly simplistic objective soon becomes much more confusing, and consequently tense, as the situation begins to progress. Exam is a breezily paced and white-knuckle entry which warranted a much larger audience than it received.