Not gonna lie, about the only reason I wanted to see this movie is because some co-workers probably made it out to be a lot more fun and hilarious than it really might be. Not that I don’t acknowledge that this isn’t a comedy, but you’d think it should be. I mean, co-workers locked in a building and forced to go ape-shit on each other, dying off one by one? There’s commentary right in front of them ripe with bloody, comedic possibilities. But I digress. I thought it wouldn’t be a good movie, but it’d be just the right amount of fun.
So let’s take a look at the cast. John Gallagher Jr. (10 CLOVERFIELD LANE , JONAH HEX , and TV show THE NEWSROOM), Tony Goldwyn (TARZAN , GHOST , and TV show SCANDAL), Adria Arjona (TV shows EMERALD CITY, TRUE DETECTIVE, and the upcoming PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING ), John C. McGinley (42 , and TV shows STAN AGAINST EVIL and SCRUBS), and Michael Rooker (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY , SLITHER , TV show THE WALKING DEAD, and the upcoming GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2  and AVENGERS: INFINITY WARS ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Greg McLean, known for THE DARKNESS (2016), ROGUE (2007), and WOLF CREEK (2005). Oh shit, this is kind of hilarious, penning the screenplay is James Gunn, who wrote – and directed – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014), SUPER (2010), SLITHER (2006), and the upcoming GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017). Composing the score is Tyler Bates, known for JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (2017), GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014), WATCHMEN (2009), and the upcoming GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Luis David Sansans, known for CAPTIVE (2015), ESCOBAR: PARADISE LOST (2014), and TV show NARCOS.
Overall, I was seeing this with some co-workers, so while it may not be a good movie, I suspected I’d enjoy myself just fine. So… did I?
This is my honest opinion of: THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
Belko Industries is a nonprofit company located in the middle of nowhere in Colombia, the main building hosts eighty American employees. When the local employees are sent home, the building soon locks down, preventing any escape or entrance. Over the building’s intercom, a voice announces that the employees must kill each other, or the surgically implanted tracking devices in their heads, doubling as explosives, will be detonated. Soon begins a game of kill or be killed as the employees of Belko vie for survival and dominance.
I don’t care what anyone says, this was a bloody good time! But does that objectively make it good? Eh… probably not. But I, as well as my co-workers, were pretty entertained.
First of all, the violence is surprisingly unhinged. When a microchip explodes, the barely-existent head is pretty damn graphic. The flesh will be peeled aside, and is really juicy. It almost made me squeamish as someone pokes around in there with a pen. And you get an eyeful of that shit too. It’s not implied squishy sounds to give you something to imagine, no, you get up close and personal to blood and chunky flesh. It’s awesome.
As you can see, this is definitely a movie to bring the kids to see. *SARCASM*
The acting is pretty damn solid for the most part. A few lines here and there are delivered awkwardly, but they’re pretty rare and probably only going to be spotted if you’re really looking for it. Few stand out sadly, as the characters are pretty stock. Goldwyn plays Barry, a pretty standard ruthless asshole, Gallagher Jr. plays Mike, a standard good guy trying to hold on to his humanity, and Arjona plays Leandra, a standard… token main female. But I hesitate to say that’s a bad thing as the main selling point is the violence and the common-office-supplies ways that everyone’s going to get killed. Characters with personalities might have taken away from the experience. Having said that, I did say that a few characters stood out. McGinley is always a riot to have on screen and always knows what to do with the roles he’s given. Seriously, this man should be more of a modern icon than he really is. He plays this creepy co-worker, Wendell, with a serious boner for Leandra, which is obviously not reciprocated. But he’s so engagingly despicable that he really gets under my skin. He’s great. And probably not in a positive way, so does Marty (Sean Gunn). He plays this pothead co-worker who ends every sentence with “man”. While that grates a bit on the ears, he’s funny when he starts going around emptying the water gallons, convinced that there’s chemicals in them that are making the co-workers susceptible to their violent tendencies. There’s no rhyme or reason for his beliefs, but he is a strange mix of funny and annoying.
But I think the best part of this movie is its sense of humor. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a comedy by any stretch, but there is a self-awareness to it that makes me adore it when it comes around. Like when the intercom voice first shows up and tells everyone that they’re going to have to start killing each other within the next two hours, one character playfully starts strangling his co-worker, clearly not taking the voice seriously. There’s another scene, after the death count rises, there’s two people hiding on top of an elevator, holding each other for comfort. The voice comes along and announces those with most kills, and mentions one of them. Awkwardly, he removes his arm from her without a single word said. It’s pretty hilarious. I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite brands of humor is self-awareness. If it can be made fun of, the movie should, and the movie does for the most part. They’re welcomed moments as the movie is pretty action-packed with tons of violence, the humor is great at balancing it all out. But then again, Gunn has always had a penchant for dark humor.
As much fun as the movie is, it does fall into some tropes that made my eye twitch. As per usual in horror films, you have way too many people making stupid decisions. You have this one character who’s constantly hiding and is pretty successful at it. Even she gets a kill in out of self-defense. You have characters that freak out and start panicking like children next to broccoli. And there’s painfully predictable moments when characters are in a safe place, feel content, and then suddenly die. There’s actually a few of those. It’s one thing to have it once and let a trope be a trope, but when you do it twice, you take the annoyance factor and raise it by ten. We didn’t need it the first time, let alone the second. And the relationship between Mike and Leandra is pretty pointless and barely adds anything to the story. You don’t really even care if they remain together by the end. In fact, I kind of wish the climax would have been building up to the two of them hunting each other down for the final kill.
It’s imperfect, and those imperfections prevent it from being great, or even really good, but it’s still a hell of a lot of fun for what it is: OFFICE SPACE meets HUNGER GAMES for adults. I hope this achieves a cult classic status because there is so much here to love. Is it anything particularly new? Probably not, but if you’re a fan of the concept, working an office job and the co-workers start killing each other, I can’t imagine anyone hating this movie. Oh, and definitely see it with your co-workers. The experience is only that much more enjoyable because now you’ll have some fun conversation starters to play with. I recommend this movie in theaters and hope you all check it out. I saw it once, I’d be open to seeing it again someday soon.
My honest rating for THE BELKO EXPERIMENT: 4/5