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The Belko Experiment

Belko Experiment, The (2016) Movie Poster
  •  USA / Colombia  •    •  89m  •    •  Directed by: Greg McLean.  •  Starring: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Owain Yeoman, Sean Gunn, Brent Sexton, Josh Brener, David Dastmalchian, David Del Rio, Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker.  •  Music by: Tyler Bates.
        In a twisted social experiment, 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogotá, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company's intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed.

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Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
Image from: Belko Experiment, The (2016)
If you've seen the trailer for this film, or even the just the poster, you pretty much know all you need to know about this film. A bunch of office employees are mysteriously locked within their office building and told they have to kill each other or they'll all die. If you've seen one of these movies like Circle, Nine Dead, Panic Button, Are You Scared, The Human Race, Vile, Breathing Room, etc, you've seen them all. And none of them are very good.

The promotion of this film makes it look a little more fun. It's set in a very stuffy, cubicle-based work environment with a few recognizable character actors, including John McGinley and Michael Rooker. Like setting The Hunger Games in Office Space. But any reports that this has a lot of wit or cleverness give this film way too much credit. The humor is sparse and unfunny when it arrives. This film's biggest running gag is pretty much a stoner character who insists everything going on is one big chemical trip. Hope you think that idea's hilarious, because they go back to that well over and over throughout the whole film. But really, this film doesn't so much fail to be funny as neglect to try. The stoner doesn't get much screen time, and one liners are few and far between. This is mostly just a grim and nihilistic catalog of violence.

And hey, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I like grim and nihilistic films, and some of my favorites are super violent. I loved the Lawnmower scene in DeadAlive, or the geyser of blood that Johnny Depp became in Nightmare On Elm St. But even if you're just a gore-hound looking for a bunch of cool kills, you're going to be disappointed. Going in, I was expecting to see lots of amusing office-themed kills. You know, like a kid from the mail room is forced to make a stapler lethal or a secretary takes out three mean executives at once with a coffee maker. But nope. For whatever stupid reason, it's established early on that this building has a weapons cache, full of handguns. So almost everybody just shoots at each other. I mean, yeah they get knives from the kitchen and fire axes, and there are a few different kills. But none are particularly cool, new or office-themed.

And there's also a whole ton of characters. This movie aims to deliver a super high body count. That might sound promising too, but this means almost nobody is fleshed out or interesting. As late as the last six or seven minutes, random office people were getting killed before we even learned who they were. Even the leads are thinly, barely developed characters you'll never care about.

The premise, as always, is dumb. We're meant to believe thing like all the employees let the company implant chips in the back of their heads and never thought to question why. Characters go from normal to psycho super fast, just because the movie doesn't have time to develop the real emotional responses the characters would go through. And in this particular case, I also don't think the filmmakers cared, which is odd, because asking "what would I do in that situation" and connecting or disagreeing with the differing characters is kind of these movies' biggest draw. But here, people are established immediately as just good or bad guys and then spend the movie behaving exactly as you knew they would.

Then I guess a big point to these movies is the big "why" reveal at the end, right? Well I won't post any spoilers; don't worry. But let's just say it's one of the most rushed, poorly thought out revelations I've seen in this little sub-genre. It makes me think maybe this movie never intended to reveal what was behind it all, but test audience response forced them to tack on a quick meaningless little coda.

But before I end this, what are the positives? Well, 1) a couple of the performances are poor and generic, but actually most of the cast acquitted themselves fairly well. Most of them deserved to be in a better movie with more interesting material. And, 2) the film does at least make good on its fundamental promise. This isn't like a monster movie where the monster doesn't show up to kill anybody until the last five minutes. Most of the running time is devoted to office employees running around the building killing each other. We weren't lied to by the marketing; they gave us what they sold us. And finally, 3) this film has as decent budget. So many films like this feel super cheap and take place in one room because they were clearly working backwards from "we can only afford to make a movie in one location." This one looks like it had money to throw around. Money they might not make back, but hey that's their look out, not ours.


Review by DVDExotica from the Internet Movie Database.

 

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May 14 2017, 13:17
Mar 20 2017, 13:50
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Aug 22 2017, 22:29
May 14 2017, 13:17
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