11 September 2016 | Coolestmovies
A near-ideal mix of gory kills and organic laughs
The concept of director Greg McLean and producer/writer James Gunn's THE BELKO EXPERIMENT won't seem overly original to those who've seen BATTLE ROYALE or really any movie in which people are forced to hunt or kill folks they know and like, but in Gunn's hands it's a whole lot more fun: office workers for a Bogota-based non-profit are trapped in their shiny office tower and told by a mysterious intercom voice that they've got to murder a certain number of their own before a pre-determined deadline or double that number will be killed via the company's "alternate method". To prove the seriousness of the situation, several employees' heads are suddenly ripped open by a mysterious force. After several attempts at teamwork to devise methods of contacting the outside world result in even more bodies as punishment, some of the (literally) more mercenary members of the management team decide that the voice sort of has a point, and set about liberating several handguns from a downstairs vault, not long after other sluggos have raided the cafeteria of its sharpest utensils.
Not surprisingly, Gunn's script establishes a firm balance between action, horror and organic comedy -- bother Sean gets some of the biggest laughs as the corporation's resident stoner and conspiracy theorist, who leads his own little squadron of three for much of the film -- and he and McLean have assembled a such a strong, fan-friendly cast of familiar heavies (Michael Rooker! Tony Goldwyn! Gregg Henry! John C. McGinley!), lesser-knowns and newcomers to play this likable, believable group of office drones that they're able to smartly subvert expectations on a number of occasions.
The body count is extremely high -- most of them on screen -- and the blood and gore is plentiful and extremely well-crafted, but it wisely isn't lingered on and there's no off-putting, drawn-out torture scenes to speak of. Mind you, a few of the most audience-pleasing kills are exceptionally squishy, so I could see this eventually hitting DVD and streaming in R and unrated versions. The TIFF audience saw the unrated version for sure last night, so plenty of cheers all around when some of the most devious players met their makers.
This is a great "what would you do" kind of show, and I'd imagine a lot of genre fans will get a huge kick out of it.