The Belko Experiment (2016) – Film Review

An intense thriller with elements of dark comedy thrown in for good measure, ‘The Belko Experiment’ is written by: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director James Gunn, and directed by: ‘Wolf Creek’ and ‘Rogue’ director Greg McLean. A strange combination which works surprisingly well in my opinion, as it results in a tense, unique and very fast-paced film.

As the story focuses on a twisted social experiment, where eighty American employees are locked in their high-rise corporate office building in Bogotá, Colombia, and are ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed. As you can probably tell from the plot, the film doesn’t hold back and throwing the audience straight into the gory chaos after only about ten to fifteen minutes of screen-time. From here, the film continues to build tension and a dreading atmosphere throughout the remainder of the film.

John Gallagher Jr and Adria Arjona are the main two protagonists of the film, as well as Tony Goldwyn and John C. McGinley as the antagonists. Who are all great in their varied roles, however due to there being an entire building worth of employees involved in the main narrative, there’s an enormous range of characters/cast, which of course means not a lot of characterisation for most of them aside from a few lines or scenes.

While the cinematography by Luis David Sansans isn’t any spectacular, it is decently effective, and does manage to show off many of the practical gore effects within the film to their best extent. However, the same can not be said for the CGI throughout the film. As despite not always being noticeable, there are many points it becomes extremely obvious due to the film’s smaller budget, and can take the audience out of the film for a moment.

The original score by Tyler Bates (while not really incredibly memorable or unique) does help to build tension throughout the film, as the soundtrack rises and changes over time to fit the more tense and chaotic feel. However, the score can feel a little out-of-place when some of the more comedic scenes come into play, but this issue is also notable when it comes to the quick changing tone of the film, despite many of the comedic moments working quite well.

One of the main elements of the film is obviously the gory deaths, as the story resolves pretty much completely around the deaths of characters, and while the film does have a few memorable moments and kills. I was a little dissatisfied with the variety, with many characters dying from simple gun shots. As personally, I feel the film should’ve made better use of the office location it’s set in, perhaps by having characters use office/everyday equipment and supplies as weapons.

As you may also expect with a violent set-up such as this, ‘The Belko Experiment’ also delivers on plenty of underlining messages. Focusing mostly on how we react as humans to traumatic events and give in to our most primal instincts and selfish desires, and while I do wish these ideas were developed a little further. They are present throughout the run-time regardless, and I did find the way the film explored the ideas of human survival pretty interesting. My favourite scene in the film (which takes place in the reception of the building) excels at expressing these ideas in brutal way.

If all your searching for on your Saturday off is a bit of gory, comedic excitement. Then ‘The Belko Experiment’ happily delivers, with a few underlining messages thrown in for good measure. The film is an enjoyable thrill-ride with some decent pacing and gore effects, regardless of some of it’s weak characters, CGI effects and relatively simple story, it may not appeal to all, but for me it’s a decent 7/10.

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