The B-movie has been a staple of the horror genre for many years. From the early Ed Wood films to Killer Clowns From Outer Space to Troll 2, no one does the B-movie quite like the horror genre. Discussions and debates are started between fans of the genre the way film historians have conversations about The Godfather and Gone With The Wind.
Being a film historian and fan of some good old fun B-movie horror, I was quite enthused when first seeing the trailer to The Belko Experiment. A group of employees are shut in their office and have to kill each other in order to survive? Count me in! The plot is so outrageous that it oozes b-movie horror greatness and a film that will be on repeat in the years to come on the horror convention scene. With the added cherry on top that James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) wrote the film, the anticipation for a mindless, entertaining time at the movies was at max capacity.
The Belko Experiment starts on what appears to be a routine day in a normal-looking office full of regular employees you would normally see at your office on a daily basis. However, on this day, steel walls trap all the employees inside and a voice comes on the loudspeaker announcing that they have to start killing 2 of their co-workers, followed by 30 more co-workers or else they’ll all die. Director Greg McLean attempts to slow-burn the tension as to whether or not the employees would kill each other in order to save their own. Eventually, the film turns into Office Space meets The Hunger Games as Belko turns into a war zone and a blood-bath. While the kills are not creative and can be formulaic, at times, they are hilarious. The film is able to bring suspension of disbelief and make its audience wonder, who is next? and whether there was an inside man involved in this scheme.
The issue with Belko, as with most of these formulaic horror films, is its characters. From the opening of the film, it is quite simple to identify the “goody two shoes” of the bunch and the first one to crack and start chopping heads off. Not one character in the film is one you can connect or route for as an audience member and we are simply left to sit, back relax and count the death toll throughout the film. While no performance is outright awful, there is none to rave about either. It is simply a “by the book performance” by the cast and nothing that fully stands out.
While The Belko Experiment leaves little to desire in terms of its characters, the film is quite entertaining in regards to its premise and “who’s next” dynamic that plays throughout. Don’t walk into this film expecting a cinematic and horror masterpiece. Walk into The Belko Experiment expecting some over the top B-movie horror that is a nice alternative to this weekend’s box office monster, Beauty and the Beast.
Reel Talk gives The Belko Experiment 2.5 Reels