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You know the story. Heads explode, people are stabbed, sliced, and
shot. I'd rather see 'Final Destination' type creativity with this sub-
It's decent enough to watch. Nothing to rush out and see right away, though.
Gore without creativity no longer amuses me. It once did. But I'm a grow ass man, now.
Please hit the "this review was not helpful" button. I love that. I try to give an honest opinion about a film and people are going to hate on it. It is what it is. But, this movie was mediocre at best.
Eighty American workers in Bogota get locked inside their office
building and an announcement over the intercom gives them half an hour
to kill any two of the employees. When they don't comply, the rules are
amped up, and an American Battle Royale (down to the 'collars') ensues.
The Belko Experiment managed to accomplish the difficult feat of never being boring, not even for a minute. It takes almost no time getting going, and at any given moment it is either action packed, or taking a break from action and descending into dark humour. Both of these were well-executed, with one particularly memorable action piece (the end of round 2, so pretty), and a spattering of interesting side characters, a lot of them hilarious in either attitude or demeanor. With that, it managed to entertain throughout, making it worth seeing.
However, where it fails is originality. The Battle Royale formula has been done time and time again, and here we get the straightest form of it, with zero deviation from the norm and zero unique perspective. Where a movie like Circle tries to infuse some kind of basic examinations of social themes, here there is no higher level to the killings. And for this, the movie never once surprises with a thought or an event. The characters are just shells of people; the bad guys are caricatures of evil, the protagonists of good. There is never ambiguity of character, in a movie where so much moral ambiguity should be present due to the situation. So from minute one you know exactly who will be a villain and who will be a hero, and the end game is obvious from the start. It's a waiting game for the movie to arrive where you know it is going, which makes it very unsatisfying once the action is over.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The set up for the movie had a somewhat interesting concept at its core: what do people do when they are trapped in a situation where the only way out is to kill others? Not a completely original idea, but it has some potential to be thought provoking if there is some kind of message it is trying to send, or some aspect of society it is trying to satirize. The resulting bloodbath is well executed, if you are into seeing office workers murder each other. I can't tell if the movie has a messed up sense of humor, or if a few people in the theater with me just thought some of the deaths were so ridiculous it was funny. Personally I never found any of the deaths over the top ENOUGH to truly find them funny, so the other people's laughter just kind of made me uncomfortable... After the bloodbath ends though, ultimately there was nothing there, no deep thoughts, no important message, no point at all really. The closest thing I can up with for meaning in the movie is that in the end, they basically admit there was no real reason for the experiment to be conducted, and so conducting cruel experiments without a purpose is a bad thing? But that seems obvious, right? When chaos ensues, different people react in different ways. It's sort of like the Walking Dead in that sense, but the Walking Dead has time to develop its themes and characters long enough for you to extract some meaning. In a way, the pointlessness of the experiment and the killing is reflected in the pointlessness of the movie itself. I don't know if that's kind of meta, or just a waste of time, but yeah, if you skip this movie, you won't be missing much except seeing a lot of talented actors who always play supporting roles murder each other in the center stage. If you want to see John Ghallager Jr in something better, watch Hush, or The Newsroom. If you want to see Meryl from the Walking Dead, watch The Walking Dead. If you want to see the ideas this movie brings up actually addressed in a thought provoking way, maybe try the Hunger Games, or Battle Royale. This was a fun little film that ultimately means very little.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the worst movies i've seen this year. The story is just
ridiculous and the acting horrendous.
A bunch of employees go to work on a normal day, only things take a turn for the worse and the soon find out the whole building is on shut down, and they have to kill each other to survive. The company has put microchips in all the employees, and use them to explode the people when they don't follow instructions ( sound familiar)
The plot is really bad and the so called twist at the end is even worse. Its so predictable what's going to happen, and eventually they all die except the good guy, who happens to plant the explosives on all the culprits at the end and blow them all up. How would the explosive still work if it had already been detonated before???? how didn't they see this on the cameras, they were quite obviously dissecting people's heads getting these things out, didn't they wonder what was going on?
It was really bad, don't waste your time on this movie, its not worth the time watching it.
The Belko Experiment is a messed up film and it's wildly entertaining.
The Belko Experiment is an indie film that's essentially about a office building that gets shut down and the people inside are forced to kill each other.
Here's the good.
The story in this movie keeps you on the edge of your seat practically the whole run time of the movie. It's a physiological horror film that really asks the audience, "What would you do in this situation?". I was lucky enough to be at a screening of the film with writer/producer James Gunn and the director Greg McLean and most of the cast. They talked a lot about how there was no villain in this movie, which is something I loved. The people in this movie were all acting for themselves, doing what they need to do for their family or for survival. The story in the beginning and the middle is very interesting and will keep the audience entertained well after the movie is over.
The acting is this movie is, for the most part, believable and good. Tony Goldwyn, John Gallagher Jr., and Sean Gunn were the standouts of this movie. Tony was terrifying, and just as he talked about during the Q and A at the screening, his character wasn't a villain. His character was doing what he had to do to make sure he could come home to his family again, even if is terrible. John Gallagher Jr. does a fantastic job as the main character. He displays a wide variety of emotions perfectly and pulls off a really really good performance, surpassing his acting in 12 Cloverfield Lane. The real standout of this movie is Sean Gunn who did a fantastic job with his character. He has some of the best and most memorable lines in the whole film. It's amazing to see how far Sean Gunn has gone in his acting ability when compared to his role in James Gunn's Super. Everyone in the movie, including the extras, pulled off great performances.
The technical parts of this movie are very well done. I have tons of respect for this movie's use of practical effects which added a lot of horror to the movie's tone. The cinematography in this movie was impressive, keeping a lot of shots close to give off a claustrophobic feeling. The lighting in this movie is used perfectly. Towards the latter half of the movie, many action sequences were lit uniquely. A action scene lit by a neon light and fire or a flickering light, whatever the case, it built the suspense.
Here's the bad.
The ending of this film is different. It didn't really set up the ending all that well and left the audience wanting something a bit more. It didn't ruin the fun of the movie but with a better ending it could have been a lot better. For a movie to me great it needs to have an ending that leaves the audience satisfied and this movie has trouble doing that.
Overall, The Belko Experiment is a thrill ride. When the action and horror and suspense hits, it hits hard. The acting from everyone is entertaining and believable, many performances being especially good. The lighting and cinematography add a lot to the overall tone of the film which makes it a lot more effective. While the ending leaves you wanting more, you'll still be thinking about this movie for days to come.
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.
The strongest part of this film is its premise. It's really fantastic. There is so much possibility for this fun, satirical look at what people will do in certain situations. The film is really filled to the brim with brilliant possibilities. But for the most part, they remain just possibilities. I do think this is a really good script. However, I don't think the execution of this screenplay was as good as if could've been. The characters making decisions and breaking off into groups could have been fascinating and riveting, but it didn't reach the level it should have. The actual streaks of killing could have been so cool to watch, but it comes off as kind of dull. Where the action could have been really inventive and insane, in a Kingsman: The Secret Service kind of way, it ends up being rather rudimentary and bland. There isn't nearly as much electricity or excitement in this film as it deserved to have...
This review of The Belo Experiment is spoiler free
BEFORE HE CLEANED his writing for the family-friendly blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy (both volumes), writer-director James Gunn conducted the script to The Belko Experiment. A horror slasher/whodunit thriller. Both forming the two sides of Gunn, however before he had blockbusting scripture he was known as a horror writer, writing and directing the dark, Slither, and the uncompromisingly silly Super. This perhaps brought influence to Zack Snyder for Watchmen. For this Gunn left the directing to Wolf Creek's Greg McLean, making this a winning combination between writer and director and for a while at least it succeeds.
Plot wise, it's The Hunger Games franchise meets The Purge, happily there are few things this has in common with them, merciless rules, a time limit to kill and intriguing characterization. Not only does the company but also the title of the film itself screams government, a huge of security, a locked gate and a tall building a mile from civilization. There's a menacing company boss (Tony Goldwyn), who will do anything to keep his workers calm but when it comes to it he sacrifices others. And just on the outside in an abandoned hanger there is a team of tight-knit killers who have clever gadgets, with buttons and names of the employees and an unknown voice announcing a game of kill or be killed, the most satisfying part; there a whole bunch of people that are killed from micro chipped bombs.
Theoretically the exploding head technique works for a while, it's stunning to look at (in a merciless way) but after a while it becomes monotonous, painting rooms with blood and skull remnants all over the floor. There are changes in the killing strategy that come slightly too late though in some cases later is better, here that works when players are used as cannon fodder, perhaps leading the film to a predictable end but it's thrilling all the same. On the other hand Gunn is a wonderful writer, his screenplay is clever, has some silly moments but that's what made his blockbuster good, because it had silly moments. There is a bunch of that here, while for most of the time it stays mostly serious, implementing a balanced screenplay.
Even though practically everything you see here has been done before, the merciless killings and the player panic The Belko Experiment is a surprisingly enjoyable thriller with a lot of polished cred (the writer and the director), the style and the solid performances.
VERDICT: A brutally, bloody Battle Royale that gives tension, style and a lot of cred. That glides along nicely through, until a disappointing dip in the second half. Still, there are plenty of positive points, the brutal violence, the polished style and the solid performances to enjoy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Let's get one thing out the way: this is horror for the masses, in the
worst possible meaning of such definition. It's domesticated, neutered,
lowest common denominator, watered down horror at its worst and, as
such, is a bar lowerer for the whole genre.
With that said, here's a list of adjectives and definitions that passed through my mind while I was watching this: unfocused, half-baked, hypocritical, unrealistic af, lame, predictable, stupid to the point of being downright offensive, heavy handed, useless. Mostly hypocritical (for what it tries to say about "human nature") and useless, anyway.
The only positives are that is generally well acted (with a tragic waste of John C. McGinley) while featuring some beautiful shots (nothing to write home about, though) and it's not shy on gore (for a mainstream movie). These, along with some humor here and there, are the only reason why I'm giving it 4/10 instead of 1.
The story has been done to death in countless other movies, novels, short stories, comic books, TV shows and video games (so, for the geniuses claiming this is a rip-off of danganronpa: yeah, no. That game is as much as rip off of other, better things, than this is). If you want some examples of movies that do the same kind of storyline, only way better than this: "Cube" (1997), "The Experiment" (both the German original, 2001 and the American remake, 2010), "The Mist" (2007) or any adaptation of "Lord of the Flies", really.
Stuffed with characters you just don't give a damn about, and smearing
the office floor with blood & corpses that keep on piling as plot
progresses, The Belko Experiment teases with an interesting idea but
it's executed in such an uninteresting fashion that it finishes as yet
another forgettable example of its kind.
The Belko Experiment unfolds in a remote office building where all its employees find themselves trapped in the edifice once day and are forced to participate in a sadistic game of "kill or be killed" by an unknown voice on the company's intercom, eventually realising it to be a social experiment they never signed up for.
Written by James Gunn & directed by Greg McLean, the film sets its premise quickly, introducing its relevant characters in a hurried manner, and once bodies begin to go down, it never stops until the very end. The concept, although unoriginal, isn't entirely terrible but its translation on the film canvas is, for nothing about it stands out.
Characters are mere caricatures, a romantic subplot is unnecessarily added, dialogues are terrible, and although it doesn't hold back on violence & gore, it doesn't leave much of an impression in the end, for neither the plot nor the characters are compelling. Performances aren't any good either as the cast has nothing in script to build their work upon.
On an overall scale, The Belko Experiment is an incompetently directed, shoddily written & poorly performed horror, and is never for once intriguing. It is one of those movies that are forgotten the moment they end, and sitting through it isn't a breeze either. Dull, uninspiring & laughable, it is a failed experiment that brings nothing new to the table but may still fascinate those who don't mind the lack of a sturdy plot as long as they get their required dose of on-screen barbarity.
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