18 – 89mins – 2017
Social science meets horror in hot-right-now screenwriter James Guardians of the Galaxy Gunn’s startlingly brutal and bloody analysis of the alliances that form and anarchy that follows the revelation that eighty white-collar workers at Columbian recruitment firm Belko Industries are pawns in a maniacal game of last man standing.
The day starts like many other, with ID checks, water-cooler banter and catching up on emails, when an unknown voice booms over the tannoy system commanding that two employees must die within the next 30 minutes, or all workers trapped within the high-rise corporate office will suffer the consequences…
It is a hideous proposal which is followed up by increasingly inhumane demands, but as fascinating an exploration into human psychology as The Belko Experiment is, it isn’t anything truly original. From Battle Royale to The Hunger Games via Das Experiment, director Greg Wolf Creek McLean’s violent killing spree joins a small and sinister sub-genre of horror films which showcase the pitch-black heart of man’s survival instinct.
As blood stains crisply-ironed uniforms and corpses litter computer workstations, James Gunn’s script drips with a deliciously dark humour which contrasts the carnage. “Bringing People Together!” the Belko slogan scrolls ironically behind cold-blooded CEO Barry’s (Tony Goldwyn) rogue splinter group, while a bathroom slaughter closes on the stall door swinging shut to reveal signage asking: “Please leave the toilet clean for the next person.”
As the barricades are lifted and the games master (Gregg Henry) introduces himself, the explanatory justification for The Belko Experiment is vague and flimsy at best, but rationale isn’t the reason we have sat through an hour and a half of murder and mayhem, and the tease of a global enterprise opens up the attractive possibility of more to come in “phase two…”
CR@B’s Claw Score: