The Belko Experiment (2017)

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Critic Consensus: The Belko Experiment offers a few moments of lurid fun for genre enthusiasts, but lacks enough subversive smarts to consistently engage once the carnage kicks in.

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Movie Info

In a twisted social experiment, a group of 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogota, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company's intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed.

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Cast

Adria Arjona
as Leandra Flores
Tony Goldwyn
as Barry Norris
Michael Rooker
as Bud Melks
Sean Gunn
as Marty Espenscheid
John C. McGinley
as Wendell Dukes
Melonie Diaz
as Dany Wilkins
Josh Brener
as Keith McLure
Owain Yeoman
as Terry Winter
Brent Sexton
as Vince Agostino
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Critic Reviews for The Belko Experiment

All Critics (93) | Top Critics (14)

A lean, mean, bloody comedy of the darkest order, Greg McLean's The Belko Experiment is pure genre fun.

May 12, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The unsatisfying result of all the berserk paranoia is predictable.Talk about a take-no-prisoners plot.

Mar 21, 2017 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
Observer
Top Critic

Vicious, mostly satisfying action.

Mar 17, 2017 | Full Review…

For all its promise to be a wry commentary on the savagery of office politics, "The Belko Experiment" is more like an experiment in how many cracked-open skulls can be crammed into one movie.

Mar 16, 2017 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

By the end of the film, you're left with the unshakable feeling that everyone involved, from actors to filmmakers to the audience, is, and should have been, better than material like this.

Mar 16, 2017 | Full Review…

You may think of Dilbert one minute, the Nuremberg defense the next. No, really.

Mar 16, 2017 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
AV Club
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Belko Experiment

½

The goal, for me, seems to be start these reviews as late as I possibly can without actually having eaten yet. It is now 11:28 pm and I haven't had dinner. Though, to be fair, I did have a later lunch than normal, so that might explain things. I suppose that's neither here nor there, I suppose. Let's move on to the film, shall we? This is a very interesting movie. It's written by Sean and James Gunn, the latter of which has written and directed Slither and both Guardians of the Galaxy. I love Slither and I should probably watch it again some time soon. I love the first Guardians and the second, while not as consistent, turned up being a really good movie as well. This has all the ingredients to make for a movie that I would end up enjoying. Social commentary, darkly comedic humor, incredibly violent. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the first Purge movie. The original with Ethan Hawke, not the one coming out in less than a month. I remember looking forward to the original Purge because of how great of a concept it had. It didn't live up to that concept but, eventually, it turned into a fun genre-movie, with the sort of wish-fulfillment that that type of movie definitely needed. And that's the case with this movie as well. Whereas the Purge failed to provide you with the genre thrills, this movie definitely doesn't hold back on them. Though, having said that, this send-up of the corporate structure, where it's dog eat dog, with everybody trying to get the next major promotion and the big contract that will earn them a raise, isn't necessarily a tired concept, but it's something that we've seen done. Bloodsucking Bastards, Mayhem, maybe even Severance immediately come to mind. I could mention Office Space, but that really isn't a horror movie (or maybe it is in a subversive manner). The thing is that, quite frankly, it's not a new concept to poke fun at the corporate world. So, in all honesty, this movie really doesn't offer anything that I haven't seen before. It really doesn't and anyone who tells you otherwise is clearly on the reefer. This is a send-up of the corporate world through the eyes of the Purge. Essentially, the employees of the Belko Industries have been shut in by steel shutters in their remote building location in Bogota, Colombia, by this strange organization, led by a man who says his instructions over an intercom system. Basically, they're ordering the employees to kill a certain amount of people by a specific time and, if they fail to do so, they will kill exponentially more people. First it's two in an half hour, the employees fail to meet this goal, so four people are killed. Then it's 30 in two hours and, again, the employees fail to meet their goal, so the organization kills 60 people. How they kill the employees when they've shuttered them in the building? Well, you see, there's these 'tracking devices' put inside the employees' heads, just so they could find them if they may have been kidnapped, that are actually bombs that are detonated remotely by the organization. So, basically, the movie you could say is about the study of human behavior when pushed to its extreme. You have people like Barry, Wendell and Terry (who really was manipulated into this as a result of his love for his kids), who use this as an excuse to murder people due to their psychopathic tendencies disguised as doing the right thing. Kill 10 to save 30 and so on and so forth. Then there's people like Mike who, at first, tries to keep every body calm and refuses to allow himself, and as many of his fellow co-workers as he can, from giving in to the tendencies that people like Barry immediately gravitated to without a second thought. I don't have a problem with this, but it leads to the movie having these very basic debates about right and wrong going out the window (from Barry's side) and how bullshit rationalizations do not alter what's right and what's wrong (from Mike's side). I don't know, I mean I sort of get having these discussions, considering that whatever decision they make is gonna lead to less (or more) deaths. But, at the same time, I found that these discussions were the same basic discussions films like this are set up to bring up. Who's right and who's wrong? And the film doesn't really explore those themes subtly. There's clearly very defined lines of black and white. Barry and Wendell are assholes who get off on killing and Mike is a paragon of decency. I suppose that subtlety goes out the window when, if you don't do what this organization wants, an explosive in your head is detonated and the back of your head, and most of the brain matter located there, is spread all over the floor. But the debates this film presents are really very simplified. I'm not saying that I would ever agree with people like Barry or Wendell, who justify it to themselves by saying that they're killing a few to save the majority. The thing about that is that the people that, usually, come up with these ideas are also people that are not gonna sacrifice themselves to accomplish these goals. Because life is funny that way. But I'd have liked it if the film wasn't as obvious as it ended up being with its exploration if these ideas. Another thing I had a problem with, and I never thought that I'd say this regarding a James (and Sean) Gunn affair, was the humor. Not that there aren't some funny moments, but I feel like they're at odds with the rest of the movie. I don't wanna say that the movie takes itself seriously, but, at the same time, the humor doesn't always mesh in all that well with the story they're trying to tell. The humor, honestly, feels a little forced and, again, it just doesn't feel like that's something I should say about a movie that the Gunn brothers have had any involvement in. I feel like the comedy should compliment the horror and not detract from it. Not to say that it detracts from it, as a whole, but it just doesn't really add to the horror in any way. Which is a shame, considering Slither managed to successfully mix in the two genres together. So did Mayhem and Bloodsucking Bastards. So I don't know why this movie really didn't do so as well, considering the people who wrote this movie. That's neither here nor there. Let's get to the ending, shall we? I don't know, the ending basically reveals (and there will be spoilers here, so skip ahead) that these experiments (which have been taken place all over the world, as you see a giant wall of screens showing the aftermath of the experiments in other parts of the world) have been set up by scientist who want to study human behavior without silly things such as morals and laws getting in their way. And that revelation, to me, is a little too on the nose. Frankly, the title of the movie immediately gives the ending away. That's what I was assuming anyway, from the start, so I thought the title would be a bit of a red herring and there'd be some other explanation. But, nope, the obvious explanation is the one you got. I suppose it's better than the alternative of doing a little crazier, but unpredictable, that might not make sense within the context of this world. But, I don't know, the reveal felt a bit anticlimactic. And it feels like I'm shitting on the movie, but I'm not. There's definitely a lot about this movie that I liked, the over-the-top gore entertained me, I like how satisfying some of the kills were, particularly Wendell's death. Like I mentioned earlier, this has all the ingredients to add up to a movie that I'd enjoy. But I think that its own potential gets in its way. Who is this organization and how'd they get set-up? How'd they get people to go along with their ideas? So many questions behind the organization responsible for this which, again, reminds me of the Purge and how the people responsible for that are more interesting to explore than any of the characters in the film. If there is a sequel, and I highly doubt there'll be one, I'm hopeful more backstory is given to the organization and what led them to this. Well, I mean, what else do I have to say? This is a perfectly decent movie with a lot of violence, so you can shut off your brain and enjoy it as that, watching assholes get their comeuppance is very satisfying. But, in my opinion, there's some flaws that keep the movie from being good. I can't overlook those. Yes, as a whole, I still felt that this was a very decent movie. But it's one that probably should have been better than it ended up being.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer

½

Whoa. There must be some kind of pent up rage in the ranks of the suit and collar crowd, cause this is the second feature (Mayhem is the other) I've seen recently wherein utter violence breaks out at the office place. Some producers somewheres must figure that there's a audience for this to appeal to. This one is a little better than the other, having more of a plot (but not much more) and character arc to portray. The essence is practically the same: we are only a handsbreath away from total anarchy at any time. There are more familiar faces here, making the incredible premise somewhat more palatable.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

A brutal social experiment but fails at providing a worthwhile plot.

Film Crazy
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer

½

An efficient B-movie with a crazy high body count, The Belko Experiment is just about everything I wanted. The residents of the Belko office in Bogata, Columbia are informed by a disembodied voice that if they do not kill two people in the next 30 minutes, there will be further casualties. Everyone thinks it's a joke until four people's heads explode (the company placed "tracking devices" in them in case they were kidnapped). The office workers are now informed that if they don't kill 30 people in the next two hours then 60 will die. The typical breakdown in order and moral relativism follows, although perhaps a bit too quickly for our main antagonist to assume his role. The bigger surprises for me were what Belko was lacking. There isn't any real satire of office politics, corporate subcultures, or even capitalism and American culture. There is also only one office-specific kill, which is a real creative shame. I was expecting the Belko-ites to take their office supplies and turn them into post-apocalyptic-styled weapons. There is also much more implied gore and violence than you would expect; it's certainly a bloody film, but it seems oddly restrained. I was expecting some level of commentary to provide further substance, but it was merely a well-developed, kill-crazy B-movie. With that being said, The Belko Experiment held my attention early with its foreboding clues that something wasn't quite right, and it does a great job of visually identifying about twenty characters for us to follow through the stages of carnage. Writer James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) definitely relishes his return to his horror roots, like a refresher on how awful human beings can be to one another. He purposely subverts our expectations at several points, though sometimes he's hitting the same beat too often. Even the mostly satisfying ending provides as much of an explanation as you would require for a premise that has no serious rationalization. The Belko Experiment is like a Twilight Zone episode given extra length and extra violence. It does just enough with its attention-grabbing premise and familiar setting to justify a casual viewing if one has a certain taste for Battle Royale meets Office Space. Nate's Grade: B

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

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