Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Review: The Belko Experiment

The Belko Experiment
Cert: 18 / 89 mins / Dir. Greg McLean / Trailer

Saturday night at the movies, who cares what picture you see? As long as someone gets beaten to death with a tape-dispenser and all the office-workers in the audience grin and silently fist-bump. Greg McLean's The Belko Experiment is a non-supernatural horror movie which is not for the faint of heart (relatively few films actually get an 18-certificate these days).

During an apparently normal working day, a seven-story building full of administrators for the mysterious Belko Corportation is put on enforced lockdown, whereby employees are informed by an unknown agency that they're to begin systematically reducing their numbers by any means possible. With no particularly favourable way out, the group begins dividing into leaders and followers, survivors and compliers, killers and victims.

The Belko Experiment is exactly the film it sounds like, and is all the better for it. The opening scenes are packed with background exposition and visual-callback setups, but at a lean 89 minutes, it wastes absolutely no time in getting to the starting line of having eighty colleagues holed up and panicking. The film's not particularly incisive with its social satire, and it's not even trying to be that clever. It's just gleefully amoral and nihilistic, not offering any solutions, just underlining the problem which has always been humanity's biggest enemy: other humans*1. Much like The Walking Dead, the plot-structure means that pretty much any of the characters can die at pretty much any point, without warning or justification (albeit often with ecstatic poetic licence).

Given the outlandish nature of the movie in general, it's fairly solidly performed all round, with strong leads from John Gallagher Jr, Adria Arjona and Tony Goldwin, a fairly easy paycheck for Michael Rooker (although the employees aren't going to stay trapped in the building for long with the amount of scenery John C. McGinley's chewing his way through, surely?). And when the James Gunn-penned flick opens with José Prieto's Yo Vivire, you just know this is going to be fun. Outside of the orchestrated score, the film's song-selection is often camp, always arch and never over-egged. Oh, and bonus point for the old-school Orion Pictures ident, too. Fantastic stuff.

The Belko Experiment was never going to redefine the genre, but if you get no enjoyment out of it then you obviously don't spend forty hours a week trapped in a building with beige electronics and idiots…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The Purge, Would You Rather and fuck it, Office Space.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you can, hell yes.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Pretty much.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Don't know if I'd go quite that far, not that it makes the film any less glorious.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This flick's got that Michael Rooker in it, and he was in 2008's Jumper alongside Hayden 'Skywalker' Christensen.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Although it's 2017 for crying out loud, if the film's sharpest stick is 'people are awful by default', that's hardly a point which needs reinforcing, now is it?[ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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