Netflix Pick: The Exam is a Simple Brain Teaser


I’m a fan of cerebral thrillers like Memento because it’s the type of film that calls for viewers to actively watch the material. I hate it when I guess the plot or twist of a movie. I like to be wrong and be fooled because that’s when you know it’s good. As someone who has seen a lot of movies, I can usually spot twists or red herrings early on in the film. It’s fun to show your peers you’ve figured it out, but it takes out the pleasure of being astounded.

Netflix recommended The Exam to me and I’ve passed on it quite a few times. The streaming service doesn’t usually provide spot-on suggestions, but they’ve been improving lately.  I gave this film a go and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t as mind bending as Memento, Inception, or Black Swan but it’s a good concept. It could have been better, but as I’ve said it’s a simple tease to challenge your brain if you are bored during a weekend.

Minor spoilers like the type you’d see in a trailer. Nothing damaging I hope.  Read on for more.

Don’t read the YouTube comments. 

I’ve linked the trailer if you want more background info. However, I think it would be a lot better if you didn’t watch it because it spoils small surprises. While they may not be big revelations, these small twists make the film enjoyable.

I went into this movie blind without watching the trailer or knowing anything about. However, it was labeled as a thriller. I was genuinely interested because I was wondering how the premise of a job application examination could be exciting. 98% of the movie is just set in one room where eight aspiring job applicants are to take their exam. Audiences get the vibe that this company is a powerful and mysterious entity. Getting a job there seems like getting a golden ticket. I initially thought that this was simply because it pays well and has great perks, but there’s something more it and you will eventually uncover why this company is the place to be later on.

I kind of thought it was idiotic that people were fighting this hard just to get a job. I felt like it was so exaggerated, but the premise of the film makes their desperation legitimate. You’ll learn about this halfway through the film if I am not mistaken. I just wish that they fleshed out the characters a bit more because I didn’t sympathize with them enough. The back story gives you a cue that you should accept the rationale of their desperation. You will, but it feels forced like someone told you to instead of feeling it yourself.

There’s also one character in the film that was handled very poorly. I knew right away that something was up with the character.


I enjoyed the twist of this movie because it was simple and I bet others would have guessed it sooner. However, it reminded me of a bonus exam that I took a few years ago. I failed it because I was expecting to be tricked since it was a ‘bonus’ exam and they tend to be very hard to nail. The film’s revelation is not grand or complex that it will melt your brain, but it will make you laugh at yourself for missing it (assuming that you do).

It’s funny how we think we can outsmart something because we know that it is trying to trick us. Thus, we think of all these complex scenarios to stay one step ahead but all it does is distract us from the real answer. I would love to see a film that tricks the biggest movie buffs into thinking they’ve got a movie figured out by using techniques as red herrings.

Let me know what you think about this film if you’ve seen it.

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  1. Saw this a couple of years ago. Yeah it was ok. It shares similarities with Nine Dead which is also on Netflix right now. With both movies it comes down to “What is the payoff/ twist!?!?” more than well everything else.

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