PLOT Trapped in an isolated office building, 80 American workers must kill each other or be killed.
CAST John Gallagher, Jr.; Adria Arjona; Tony Goldwyn
RATED R (gory violence)
BOTTOM LINE Horror and humor make for a satisfying mix in this nightmare workplace scenario. Nasty fun.
Ever feel like you could just kill one of your co-workers? You might want to see a counselor about that, or you could go see “The Belko Experiment,” a nasty and frequently very funny horror flick in which office politics become literally a blood sport. The premise is simple: Eighty employees are trapped inside their office building and told — by a voice over the PA system — that if they don’t kill several of each other, even more will meet their death.
Why not just refuse, you ask? Because each employee has been implanted with a tracer in his neck which, it turns out, is actually a radio-triggered explosive. That’s why.
Once the rules of the game are established, “The Belko Experiment” sets about pitting the players against each other. We can tell that Mike (John Gallagher, Jr.) will carry the torch of morality no matter what, although his girlfriend, Leandra (Adria Arjona) turns feral awfully fast. A new hire, Dany (Melonie Diaz), manages to escape notice — but for how long? Meanwhile, the company’s COO, Barry (Tony Goldwyn), decides it’s best to just tow the company line. Let the layoffs begin!
There’s great potential here for commentary or satire, and it’s a little disappointing that screenwriter James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) doesn’t offer any. (One odd twist is that the Belko company is based in Bogota, Colombia, and its American employees all thought they were working for a nonprofit. Is that a jab at social-justice warriors?)
Mostly, the film is concerned with the behavior of its characters, and they’re a colorful group played by such appealing actors as Michael Rooker (Bud the maintenance guy) and the great John C. McGinley (Wendell the office creep). If anything, some of these folks don’t stick around long enough for us to fully enjoy.
Directed with a nice balance of humor and horror by Greg McLean, “The Belko Experiment” is a fun ride through a bizarro version of the corporate workplace. Any movie that includes death by tape dispenser is worth seeing.