Thursday, March 23, 2017

Movie Review: "The Belko Experiment" (2017)

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Director: Greg McLean
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes

A group of office workers at the Belko corporation in Bogotá, Colombia are locked in their building and are forced to murder each other or face their own execution by a faceless voice controlling the situation. 

"The Belko Experiment" is directed by Greg McLean, who is known for directing "Wolf Creek" and its sequel, as well as the horrendous horror flick from last year called "The Darkness." It is written by James Gunn, who is no stranger to movies like this as he has written such horror genre flicks as "Dawn of the Dead" (2004) and "Slither." It has an ensemble cast that makes up the employees at Belko, played by the likes of John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Sean Gunn, Josh Brener, Dave Del Rio, Owain Yeoman, James Earl, and Michael Rooker, just to name a few. All of the company's workers show up for a normal day on the job at Belko to find what seems like a heightened security alert. Most of the employees don't think much of it, until an announcement comes over the PA system stating what is essentially a "kill or be killed" message as metal shutters slam over every window throughout the building, leaving no chance for escape.

This is a film where average people are taken and put in an extreme situation. These workers are forced to see if they can revert to their more violent and animalistic instincts. We have seen similar concepts like in other movies, most notably "Battle Royale," and to a lesser and far less bloody extent, "The Hunger Games." You can even compare the situation these office workers are put in to that of a drafted soldier who is placed on the front lines of battle, except in war, the enemy is far more clear. In this situation, many scenarios are set up to test people to see how they will react. The voice on the PA system demands that two people be killed, or there will be consequences. When the workers attempt to call the voice's bluff and don't comply, four people are killed. Next comes the order to kill 30 people or 60 will die. It's at this point we how far certain individuals are willing to go for self-preservation and how strong the moral convictions of others are in a scenario like this. It is in the early part of the film where tension and paranoia build as we wonder who will be the first to crack under the pressure, the horror, and the insanity, and will be the first to murder a coworker and friend.

This is not a complex story with deeply developed characters. Throughout the film, we do get a general sense of who some of the people working for Belko are, as well as their attitudes towards survival and their potential murder habits. There's not a whole lot beyond this, but there doesn't really need to be, especially when considering the movie's short runtime. As the film rolls quickly on, all hell starts to break loose into a symphony of mayhem and carnage. The weapons come out in full force and blood starts to fly as humanity goes right out the window in a frenzy of gratuitous violence. Because of this, it's not going to be a film for everyone due to the fact that at times, one may hear the literal mushing of skulls and brains as Belko employees are murdered in various ways. In fact, the very idea of a film like this is enough to disgust many people, especially considering the climate we live in today related to incidents like this. The one big critique we have is that much of the killing is done with guns, and given the office type of setting, though there were some crafty kills, we would have preferred to see more creative uses of office supplies when it came to some of these killings.

For fans of splatter-house style horror films or the aforementioned "Battle Royale," "The Belko Experiment" may be right up your alley. For us, we found this to be overall effective and sometimes unnerving flick, which is what a horror film is meant to do. Like we said, this movie is not for everyone as the body count is not only kept at a high and ever-rising number, but it's kept at a bloody disgusting one at that. Gore fans will delight in the sea of butchery left in this movie's wake.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 46%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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