Advertised as “Office Space meets Battle Royale,” The Belko Experiment wonders what happens when you lock up an isolated office building and make people kill each other for their own individual survival. The Belko Experiment is an old script by James Gunn from 2007, back when the Iraq War had created a lot of weird companies that did odd things for money. Belko is a staffing company that hires American people out to South American companies for beaucoup dinero. For some reason their building is in the middle of nowhere where nobody can see the psychotic company that has decided to conduct the tests in the building.
Shielding off all windows and exits, a mysterious militant faction commands the 80 poorly drawn employees to start killing each other or else they’ll explode tiny bombs placed in their heads during a routine health screening. That’s when the command chain takes hold as the COO makes executive decisions to try to save as much of the company as he can while know nothing employees say that its all morally wrong and the slacker cafeteria workers (Sean Gunn) can see through all this for the bullshit that it is.
The whole movie is played for misanthropic keeps. It takes awhile to get to the fireworks factory, but it does have some amateur fun while they’re at it. A series of assassinations happens to a blaring soundtrack of a Spanish version of “California Dreaming,” probably because director Greg McLean hates that song. The song selection in The Belko Experiment are all style and little substance, being very amusing in the moment but perhaps even better choices could have been made had somebody thought for another 20 minutes about what song to pair the scene with.
Perhaps that’s my problem. There isn’t enough creativity in The Belko Experiment to survive on. This is Battle Royale set in an office…kill each other with some office supplies, for Christ’s sake. Have some inspired musak selections. Play around a bit more with the nasty office politics. Do something that shows a bit of inspiration. I wish Greg McLean, who previously directed the tight and tense Australian slasher Wolf Creek, had a bit more verve in his filmmaking. Let loose. Do some lines of cocaine and wonder what kind of subversive hilarity you can come up with. Mix up the genres! Battle Royale worked so well because it kept wholeheartedly diving into various other genres like teen romance and zany murderous farce. Play around with it. The Belko Experiment doesn’t have anything important to say, so let’s have some fun with it.
Regardless of how large a stick it has up its own ass (and not the fun type of stick either), The Belko Experiment is cruel and bloody enough to warrant a viewing from those looking for violent gorefests of death and murder. There’s plenty of fun to be found in it, but it could be a lot better. Like, a lot better. I’m the target demographic, and I just wanted something more.