The Belko Experiment (2016)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Belko Experiment</strong> (2016)

(On Cable TV, January 2019) Office work can be dispiriting enough that there is really no reason to add a battle royale on top of it, but that’s what writer/producer James Gunn and director Greg McLean go for in The Belko Experiment. The story depends on a highly suspicious number of contrivances (all the way to devices willingly implanted in people’s skulls) to pit eighty office workers against each other until a single one is left. The surprisingly strong subgenre of “everyone must die except one” movie is generally ugly and nihilistic (even you, The Hunger Games) and this newest entry is no exception. Having the same murder mechanics inside an office building could have been played for laughs but definitely isn’t, and the result is not particularly uplifting. Given the forgone conclusion (blood … pools of blood), the only thing that remains is the execution, and the best that The Belko Experiment can do is fight its way to an average set of thrills and gore. The ending does feature one effective scene and one mildly intriguing plot backflip, but it also raises expectations beyond what the film can fulfill—now that the really interesting questions have been raised, what’s next? But the film then cuts to the credit sequence, not really interested in its final idea as anything but a stinger. Viewers already know from the “Battle royale in an office” description whether they’re interested in seeing the film, but they should be forewarned that they will get nothing extra on top of that.

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