"At the end of the day, people are out for themselves."
The Belko Experiment tells the story of an ordinary day at the office, which then becomes a horrific quest for survival, when 80 employees at the Belko Corp. learn that they are pawns in a deadly game of kill or be killed. This movie made me realize just how much I love social experiments, not just in movies, but in media in general. Whether it’s the ABC show What Would You Do, or The Jokers’ social experiment from The Dark Knight. It harkens back to a quote from The Joker, where he hints at the notion of people eating each other, metaphorically. I think an apt interpretation was no matter how upright and noble people pretend to be, when the chips are down, no one is to be trusted. Also, It even very much reminds me of that movie The Stanford Prison Experiment. Naturally, when the chaos ensues, and all hell begins to break loose, it's all different strokes for different folks, and different people react in different ways. I'm not ashamed to say, I'd be quick to weapon up and go body hunting to save my own skin. It's really no question, and harkens back to the whole "Not because I want to, because I have to" justification. You could see which characters were presented as antagonist/protagonist, but I never felt that any of the "bad men" were really villains, per say.
So pretend you’re me for just a moment. You’re sitting there ready to watch this movie you’re all settled in, and the credit start rolling. People walking in slow motion, everything is slow motion, some introduction music starts playing and it’s a Spanish version of “I will Survive”, which if you know the basic premise of the movie, is very telling and is some kick-ass foreshadowing. Then you see the actor Michael Rooker, then you see Sean Gunn, and at this point I’m thinking to myself, ‘Oh, it’s a Guardians fest, cool. But, then I see “Music By” Tyler Bates, who also scored Guardians Of The Galaxy, then I see Produced by James Gunn, then written by James Gunn. Of course, it would’ve been too much to ask at this movie is Directed by James Gunn as well, but I’m pretty sure his fingerprints are going to be all over this. Me being the fanboy I am for shot composition, I have to mention around the 48 minute mark, there’s a shot between two people having a conversation in a stairwell. One of the characters face as blocked in a very dirty single, in a very intense moment between the two of them in close proximity. This is the kind of stuff I love, because it’s fucking perfect. I actually love to do a movie or short, or a scene or something, where we shot character surrounded in mystery and the entire way they’re shot, and all the screen time they get is never a clean single one of them. It’s always something blocking their face, or shot some type away that keeps that character mysterious. I was really digging the red, purple, and blue color palettes near the end. I also liked her near the end, all of your expectations were subverted. There’s a character we follow through most of the movie, and (to borrow a quote from the late Rowdy Roddy Piper) just when you think you have all the answers, they change the questions.
The premise for the movie had an interesting enough concept, and begged the question, "What do people do when they are trapped in a situation where the only way out is to kill others?" Not the most original idea ever, but it has some potential to be insightful if it has some hint of a message it's trying to send, or some part of society it is trying to satirize. It doesn't honestly reward a patient viewer as the reason this all happens, is never really made clear, which makes for a less than satisfying ending. Im all about lack of exposition and leaving things open ended, but the ending really rendered the viewing experince pointless aside from some bodies dropping throughout. The Belko Experiment is a fun ride, and not for the squeamish or faint of heart. I despise the Horror genre, but really wanted to see this. With a run time of less than 90 minutes, it's not the best or worst thing ever, and is worth at least one viewing. It comes recommended for fans of Horror movies and the work of James Gunn. Due to its horror elements, and lackluster ending, it is not a Ricky Nixx film.
Director: Greg McLean
Writer: James Gunn
Stars: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona