Blu-Ray Spotlight: Black Circle

Adrián García Bogliano’s 2018 film gets a standard release from Synapse Films, with a special audio treat.

celluloid consommé
5 min readSep 25, 2023
Blu-Ray box art courtesy of MVD Visual.

Black Circle is an oddity in the world of horror cinema. It is within the cult subgenre (not a cult film, but a film about cults) although there is no hidden menace among its founders. In fact, everything the group claims to be true actually is and it’s up to the work of the viewer and each individual character to decide when to buy into all of it, however there is a point where it is impossible to deny. It feels like a horror film torn from the pages of a graphic novel in its developed visual style, and the marriage it proposes between the visual and aural is fascinating. It has something to offer to fans of the horror and sci-fi genres with notable superhero elements.

Celeste (Felice Jankell) reunites with her sister Isa (Erika Midfjäll) and is given a record designed to direct meditation and hypnotize the subject, promising them a better and more successful life once listening. However, the second half of the record must be played before going to sleep every night without fail to ensure the best possible results. The film goes into the relationship the two sisters have, tracing back to where the vinyl came from in the first place, but then leads into their search for the woman who recorded the record in the first place when something eventually goes wrong. From there, The sisters’ journey sees them leaving the world of grounded & assumed reality and goes into the unknown.


Black Circle is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.44:1 and is presented to look like there are two different video sources: the main narrative “look” of the film with digital photography and a faux-16mm camera that inserts some context of the group that made the recording Isa and Celeste come to rely on. The jumps between these two “sources” are designed to draw attention to the assumed tangible nature of 16mm film when switching to the near-immaculate digital presentation we begin with.

Both modes are presented in a deliberately clean presentation, with some digital noise added to the 16mm segments along with added texture of scratches and hair on the film “cells” and a relatively crisp digital look yet employing some film grain that gives it a real filmic look without obscuring details of more intricate elements in the shot. There are visual interstitials that serve as the hypnotic force and the dimension both sisters travel to and from, and those present themselves as the clearest & most defined lines, points, and shapes to give the film a real visual contrast for the better. Use of gel lighting in shots just sweetens the pot with its already otherworldly look and completes the stark look of the film giving it a quality comparable to panels of graphic novels (for those curious, the DC Black Label horror comics come to mind — especially Nice House on the Lake).


Black Circle comes with a 5.1 surround track in the original Swedish language, with optional English subtitles. The film’s sound is arguably the best component between its video and audio assets, offering some really nice usage of bass and higher frequencies due to its electronic score and mastering. Much like the aim of the film’s hypnosis group, the film itself can put you into a state of deep focus, if you let it, and the audio is a major component of that.

Special Features

There are quite a few special features on Black Circle, from a commentary and the original short film from which the feature is based, and a bonus audio CD. The full extra features are outlined below:

  • Original score by Rickard Gramfors on a separate audio CD
  • Audio commentary with director Adrián García Bogliano
  • Inside Black Circle: a making-of featurette with interviews of director Adrián García Bogliano, actors Christina Lindberg, Hannah Asp, Felice Jankell, Hans Sandqvist, Jonah Palm, and Madeline Barwen Trollvik. Some behind the scenes footage is shown during the interviews and makes for an interesting watch. (9 mins. 2 sec.)
  • Don’t Open Your Eyes: the short film on which Black Circle was extended from, the footage of which was used directly in the feature-length version with some slight differences in editing and a different ending trajectory for one of the main characters. (10 mins. 55 sec.)
  • Interview with Adrián García Bogliano and Christina Lindberg: a rather long-winded dive into the life and career of Christina Lindberg by Black Circle’s director, from getting her start in acting to appearing in his film by the end. (57 mins. 25 sec.)
  • Image gallery: stills and shots from the film (14 mins. 5 sec.)
  • Teaser trailer (1 min. 8 sec.)

Final Thoughts

Black Circle has all the ingredients for an extremely compelling watch but it is on the viewer to give it your full attention. You’ll know if this is for you when the opening act of hypnosis on the viewer begins, a voice telling you to look into the center of the black circle while a large spiral spins in one direction before hard-cutting to the first photographic image. It’s a trip in more ways than one, and Synapse Films’ release gives it a stellar presentation. This film and its release come highly recommended.

Black Circle is available now on Blu-Ray in a special slipcover from Synapse Films and DiabolikDVD on both Synapse Films’ and Diabolik DVD’s respective websites.

If you’d like to purchase a copy elsewhere, consider the following outlets instead of Amazon, if you will:
DiabolikDVD | Forbidden Planet | DeepDiscount

Disclaimer: MVD Visual has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.