When your script revolves around 80 employees locked up into their office building waiting to kill or be killed, the final product could either be extremely satisfying or go terribly wrong.
The Belko Experiment is the exception to the rule.
Directed by Greg McLean – who made a name for himself with the excellent Wolf Creek (2005) but also made some stinkers in the recent past – and written by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2), this film tells a quite straightforward story.
In an office building nearby Bogota (Colombia), 80 employees – from the maintenance to the bosses – are the target of a sadistic game where, in order to survive, they must kill each other, instructed by a mysterious voice which gives them orders and rules to follow.
By far, the best aspect of The Belko Experiment revolves around the employees’ reactions. Each and every one of them gives a different response to the panic, ranging from disbelief to pure shock, to madness, to abandoning every decent human behaviour.
Also, despite the short runtime of only 88 minutes, the film takes its time to introduce the main characters, which are well-rounded within a few sequences: Mike Milch (John Gallagher Jr.), Barry (Tony Goldwyn) and Wendell (John Christopher McGinley) are particularly striking in their respective roles.
Nevertheless, in the cast choices there is also a lot of wasted potential. Michael Rooker, for example, seems to be in the movie purely to make a favour to Gunn – the duo worked together in both the Guardian of the Galaxy films.
Yet, with such a simplistic plot, the show stealer should have been the killings. Rated R and marked as very violent, The Belko Experiment holds back on every scene that might have been too brutal, instead.
On the contrary, when on camera, the practical effects are well-done and effective, although never original or unseen in other flicks before.
However, the most disappointing part of the movie is the grand finale. Nonsense, dumb and lazy. I wouldn’t know how to describe it otherwise. The main reason being that who made the movie wanted to set up a sequel, regardless how stupid the ending of the film was.
Overall, though, you can give it a watch, switch your brain off and enjoy a very quick film that has nothing to offer apart from decent entertainment. It could have been way worse, but even far better than it actually is. Instead, The Belko Experiment is a forgettable horror flick that, for sure, doesn’t deserve a sequel. Let’s hope they don’t make one. Cheers!