Who hasn’t spent a day in a cubicle wondering how they would take out a co-worker if the government approved an office purge?
The Belko Experiment is a simple yet intriguing concept, and so wonderfully assembled. I highly recommend going into it with as little knowledge as possible, so avoid even the trailer if you can, just so you can enjoy every bit of it fresh. Set in present day Columbia, with only 80 employees in the building (which happens to be in the middle of nowhere), the personnel are unwittingly locked-in by some unknown, military grade metal wall and told via a voice on the intercom that they’re going to have to play by their rules and, in short, kill their co-workers within the given time frame or people will be selected to die. Think of it as The Hunger Games meets Office Space, but written by James Gunn, directed by Greg McLean and starring John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, and Adria Arjona. Are you in yet?
If not, let me convince you. At the beginning, you’re essentially dropped into this world but the film is paced so well and you’re given enough knowledge in exactly the right way, that you feel extremely familiar with both the environment and setting, all within the first fifteen minutes or so. Not many movies can pull that off, so I’ve got to hand it to them for their success. It’s almost as if you were previously familiar with the property due to how comfortable you are right from the start. We take off pretty lively with some great music and your anticipation stays up through the entirety of the film. This music plays a very minor part in the film so you don’t have a running soundtrack, but how it is incorporated is great and more than a bit humorous- and also at the exact right time.
I often find movies lately having someone or something that draws me out of it a smidgen, but I didn’t experience a moment of that in Belko. I can’t say I was disappointed by a single performance, it’s sort of like there’s a role for everyone to enjoy and you aren’t overwhelmed by who else shows up. You’ve got a little bit of Sean Gunn here, a little bit of Tony Goldwyn there, a great role by John McGinley everywhere, and so many more. Each moment jumps out at you like, “hey, I know them!”, but that’s not the only jump you’ll get from this flick. Rarely do films make me jolt towards the ceiling like a scared cat in a YouTube video, but holy shit did I leave my seat vertically a couple of times in this. It’s not that it’s scary necessarily; it’s just how well they were able to surprise.
What about the good stuff, you ask? Well, there’s plenty of blood to go around. You’ve got a few scenes with intense brutality and visuals for those Saw lovers, but not too much that you should be turned away if you could not handle that series. Not to say that it doesn’t have plenty of cringe-worthy moments, most just aren’t unbearable. It’s quite refreshing to watch a movie that considers what the average movie-goer is thinking when watching regarding logistics, i.e. the women in heels actually take them off! And you can’t go wrong with a few good one-liners. James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither) delivered a screenplay tailored for EVERY genre fan.
As for the ending, I won’t get into details, but I will say that I left feeling satisfied. The conclusion they brought you to, how they got you there, what they finished with – it all left me with a sense of content. I can’t recommend this enough if it’s within your wheelhouse, as The Belko Experiment is all the fun and violence we look for in a flick like this. Go with a couple buddies, by yourself, or – if you’re gutsy enough – a group of co-workers (just maybe not the one whose lunch you ate out of the fridge last week, eh?).
So, now that you’re convinced, there’s just one question…where will YOU hide?
Starring Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rooker, John McGinley
Written by James Gunn
Directed by Greg McLean