WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
You know, If you accept a job in a third world country working for a government company you have never heard of and they require you to implant a tracker in the back of your skull as a countermeasure to combat kidnapping in a high crime area…you would figure a second reading your employee contract would be in order. The Belko Experiment is a perfect example of why you don’t look for jobs on Craigslist…or Columbia for that matter. In what some will call a satire of corporate America, The Belko Experiment shows how far every day people are willing to go when they are given a simple choice, kill or be killed. So as the great Bill Burr once said: “stretch out your hammies cause it’s gonna get crazy!”
The film begins in a remote office building in Hellhole, Columbia, armed guards are checking employee IDs before they are allowed to enter the building. Seeing how this doesn’t raise a red flag for anyone as they go on about their day, you know something really bad is about to happen. Suddenly a voice on the intercom tells them that they must kill two people or more will be killed at random. Nobody takes the message seriously until the doors and windows are sealed and peoples’ heads begin to pop like New Years Eve party favors. With a dire situation, the office has one simple task, kill 30 people in 2 hours or 60 people will be killed at random…and to think you passed on a Starbucks job for this.
With a cast this big and a movie this short (88 minutes), there isn’t much character development to be had. You know just enough about these characters to get you to the murdering part. The perv, the nerd, the stoner, the trainee, the gay guy, the black girl, that is all you really need to know as the key here is survival, not character traits. James Gunn, writer and director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, has the pen and pan in this film. Gunn sets up what is essentially a Hunger Games scenario with grown men in khakis. The action is brutal including an anxiety-inducing scene which the employees are forced to take people out execution style before the time runs out.
While I like the overall execution of the film, the premise of the movie is pretty dumb considering the fact that they had every red flag in the book to warn them about this situation. The stoner at one point mentions that the company was going to do a ‘social experiment’ on them at some point telling the audience, they were probably told this was going to happen from the start but once again, no one bothered to read what they were signing. It’s like the Human Centipede Episode of South Park, always read the fine print before accepting. The reveal at the end is a bit ridiculous and takes away from the pretty good ending. The film is truly everyman for themselves and out of 80 employees, only one will be allowed to walk away.
The Belko Experiment ultimately delivers on a simple premise, workplace violence turned up to 100. With low expectations, the film is a fun thriller worthy of seeing with a few friends or enjoying in the comfort of your own home. James Gunn gets credit for trying to do something different like with most Blumhouse Films. The only negative here is you just wish they took a little more risk to truly be something special.
OFFICIAL RATING: ***