The Belko Experiment
One of the most popular that can span all types of expressive formats is the mash-up. When two or more distinctive styles, tropes, genres or specific works are blended the artist, and audience, understandably hopes for a synergistic reaction. Even in the more common occurrence when the desired effect while not fully achieved the intrinsic novelty of the juxtaposition is often entertaining. Among the most recent example is ‘The Belko Experiment.' Even moderately experienced cinephiles will readily recognize the two films used to create this hybrid movie. The premise of the presents the movie as the exceptional violence and unbridled ‘kill or be killed’ rule set infamously seen in ‘Battle Royale’ with the dark comedy beloved by all office workers, ‘Office Space.' By permitting the characters to run the gauntlet desperate to attain the goal of survival. An office building is closed off trapping 60 workers inside. An anonymous voice of the building’s public announcement system succinctly describes what is occurring. Each of the workers is expected to kill each other until the one survivor is finally released. I’m reasonably certain that a significant number of us that have experienced employment by a large corporation in the cubical dominated environment have felt hopelessly trapped. It is one thing to the temptation of undercutting a work rival for a promotion and something severely more intense about an actual life or death scenario. Admittedly, this movie is flawed and despites the illustrious resumes of the screenwriter and director, demonstrate considerable expertise and imagination with their respective contributions to the project. The director, James Gunn, names that are gaining familiarity at an exponential rate. As the director of the pivotal part of the MCU, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.' He has the experience in infusing humor into action sequences. The script was provided by Greg McLean, the author of scripts for psychologically driven horror stories as ‘Wolf Creek’ and ‘Rogue.' Together they have crafted an interesting movie that interestingly showcases their talents.
The film opens in an exceptionally efficient manner both establishing the context of the story and establishing a connection with the audience. The scene of people entering the lobby of a large, multinational corporation. The mundane act of swiping your identification to pass security and a large number of cardboard coffee cups is a routine part of the morning for millions of people. The one unusual aspects of this routine is a substantial number of employees are turned away by the security guards. The Belko Corporation Office show here is in a rural area near Bogotá, Colombia. This morning the native workers are denied admission to their jobs. One of the staff member that noticed the peculiarities is the Head of Security Guards, Evan (James Earl). He is curious about the sudden appearance of new guards, coincidentally, the ones segregating the native employees. One of the arriving American employees is Mike Milch (John Gallagher Jr.), is new to employment at Belko, a situation shared by many of the American staff which included his girlfriend, Leandra Florez (Adria Arjona), chief operating officer Barry Norris (Tony Goldwyn). An important plot device is reasonably explained by a new hire reporting for her first day at work, Dany (Melonie Diaz). During her pre-employment physical, the company had a special tracking device surgically implanted under the skin at the back of the neck. The rationale for this extreme requirement is the unusually high occurrence of the kidnapping of American corporate working in Columbia. The device is to allow the company to keep track of their location constantly.
With the remaining staff, entirely off the premises, the remaining staff begins their day. As always Leandra must deflect the obvious and overtly creepy advances of senior executive, Wendell Dukes (John C. McGinley). His inappropriate sexually infused comments and text messages are a constant part of the day. It bears commenting that Mr. McGinley plays a similar role in the previously cited movie, ‘Office Space.' Suddenly an unfamiliar voice (Gregg Henry), begins to speak over the PA. He explains that the requisite 80 people were reached. The building has been locked down; no one can enter or leave for the duration of this experiment. The objective of the experiment is to observe workers placed under an inordinate degree of stress. By achieving this state, the employees are expected to begin murdering each other until one a signal conscripted participant remains alive. To demonstrate the consequences of resistance or any attempt at non-participation, the heads of four people explode. As it turns out, those trackers contain sufficient explosives to kill by remote control. Impenetrable metal instantaneously seals the doors and windows. In a nice, well-appreciated variation on the typical theme, the metal shutters slide upward at incredible speed.
Some elements of the general format are like the progression of a standard disaster flick. After establishing the deadly circumstances, the next priority is to introduce the viewers to several different groups of people each with their threads. Since the primary office staff and the head of security. The next cadre to consider are the men in maintenance. Here, Mr. Gunn brings a couple of actors from his current mega hit franchise, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.' Included is a journeyman character actor, Michael Rooker as the no nonsense Bud Melks, Belko's head of Maintenance and the filmmaker’s brother, Sean Gunn as a stoner worker in the cafeteria, Marty Espenscheid. Working as Bud’s assistant Lonny Crane (David Dastmalchian). Since it’s no fun sneaking off to get high alone, Marty is accompanied by his refer buddy and best friend, Chet Valincourt (Abraham Benrubi). Just when the voice was making its bizarre and deadly edict, Bud and Lonny were tracking down an unusual problem while Marty and Chet were on the roof sparking up some of Columbia’s herbal product. This also serves the mandatory plot device of showing the effects of the experiment from several vantage points.
The Voice demands the murder of two people, or else everyone will die. To reinforce the veracity of the consequences, suddenly, four employees die, their heads tore apart in a bloody mist. The initial assumption is that a sniper was responsible but after Milch makes a cursory examination it is obvious, the heads exploded from within the skull. The tracking devices are revealed to allow their captors to detonate an explosive charge remotely. When Mike tries to cut the device out with a box cutter, but before he can extract it, the voice warns that if his attempt at self-surgery is not halted immediately, his device will be activated. By this point, the gravity of the situation is etched indelibly in the remaining 76 employees. It is interesting that the filmmaker decided to present this story utilizing a format closer to a disaster movie than an example of horror. In ‘Battle Royale’ presented the forced carnage in the manner of a horror flick, a different approach was employed here. The serial killer monster replaced by a dispassionate and cruel government the source of this horrific situation is unknown. Presumably, it could be Belko Corporation, but the extent of the elaborate machinations implies something with greater resources and access to superior technology. Demonstrating occurs when Bud tries to cut through the metal with an acetylene torch. After several minutes at its highest temperature, the metal remained cool to the touch. The construction of the movie exploits well thought out narrative devices. In most movies that depended upon exploiting violence, the cause is typically readily made known. The exceptions typically involve the use of supernatural forces. Here, there is a distinct and deliberate infusion of a mystery as a fundamental component of the story.
The ultimate premise of the film expands upon one of the most intriguing themes in popular use, driving a reasonable past the point defining his humanity through exposure to immensely unreasonable external pressures. Mike is forced to confront humanity similarly to the protagonist played by Michael Douglas in ‘Going Down’ or Dustin Hoffman in the original ‘Straw Man.' Mike is ultimately pitted against Barry, but more significantly against Mike’s desire to retain his desire to save everyone. Barry is willing to kill 30 to prevent the slaughter of 60 chosen at random. The ablation of Mike’s moral core through the escalating stages that sets this movie apart from those offering violence for the sake of visceral exploitation,
After consideration of the low score assigned by several of the most popular aggregate review sites is a result of age bias most probably attributed to younger critics skewing the results. I freely admit that this assessment substantially influenced by the experiences common to my generation. My contention posits the current generation has become accustomed to information and entertainment provided in short bursts rather than a predisposition to prefer stories requiring a carefully simmered set of plot points that must be pieced together by the audience to achieve and best appreciate the denouement. In this instance forego the generalized pronouncement on those sites and experience it on your own.