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Film Review – The Belko Experiment (2017)

Smaller films need to be smart about when they release the film to the public in order to maximize profit.  This weekend is a prime example of such an outcome with counter programming heavily in place.  The Belko Experiment showcases a ton of blood and gore to combat the Beauty and the Beast‘s family oriented entertainment.  The following review will be spoiler free.

Background

The Belko Experiment is directed by Greg McLean and stars John Gallagher Jr., Adria Arjona, and Tony Goldwyn.

The film follows a group of eighty workers at their high-rise corporate office.  Things seem to be going along just fine when a voice comes over the intercom at the office.  The voice says that the those in the office must kill or be killed. As a result, insanity ensues, leaving a select few at the office to fend for themselves.

The Belko Experiment

image via Variety

This film is produced by BH Tilt, which is Blumhouse‘s multi-platform release branch that has its own slate of low-budget films that largely get released to streaming or on-demand services.  However, sometimes these films are able to get a boost into a theatrical release due to special circumstances.

Surprisingly, we have the success of Guardians of the Galaxy for this film.  James Gunn wrote the script to The Belko Experiment, giving the film an extra layer of intrigue for genre enthusiasts.  Before he hit it big with Guardians of the Galaxy, Gunn made a name for himself directing or writing many hyper violent films such as Super, Slither, and the Dawn of the Dead remake.  No matter the film, Gunn always seems to create an intriguing premise, consistently subverting genre cliches and making a truly original film.  These notes gave me a little boost of excitement to see his latest writing project.

The Belko Experiment

image via Collider

What I Liked

Whether or not you like this movie depends on how well you handle gratuitous violence.  The Belko Experiment is extremely brutal and knows that it is as every second passes.  This movie revels in the idea killing people in new, inventive ways with everyday office objects.  Even when you think the movie is going to take the story in a different direction and have some higher meaning, it doubles down on the killing and becomes even more gruesome.  So, if you don’t enjoy gore, stay away from The Belko Experiment at all costs.

But what The Belko Experiment has going for it is a great premise that feels somewhat realistic.  Once the intentions of the people over the intercom prove to be fatal for those in the office, there’s a nice moral dilemma that comes over you as an audience member in regards to how you would react in such a circumstance.  The situation forces characters to decide whether to kill multiple people or do nothing.  Given the atmosphere that the film sets, these questions are warranted and have a lasting effect on you as the viewer.

The Belko Experiment

image via comicbook.com

What I Didn’t Like

The Belko Experiment, like the blood that is splattered all over the walls, is a bit of a mess tonally.  It felt like the film tried to have some sort of satirical edge to the senseless killing, but the film was neither clever enough to pull it off nor funny enough to distract from the murders, so what we end up getting is a film that jumps between brutal killings and jokes which leads to a weird and sometimes unpleasant feel overall.

The film also attempts to have the feel that it’s happening in real time but has illogical jumps in time to progress the story.  Sorry, but I don’t buy it when the intercom announces that the workers have two hours to kill a certain amount of people when the film itself is less than an hour and a half and tries to make it feel like the workers are reacting to things in real time.  This issue only adds to the messy nature discussed above.

The Belko Experiment

image via YouTube

What I Liked…Continued

That being said, there’s a certainly quality about The Belko Experiment that is very fascinating.  The film has a bleak atmosphere that envelopes each character, giving the movie a realistic feel that really ramps up the tension as the story progresses.  The score of the film has a pulse that mimics a heart beat, which in turn puts you on edge as the film pumps you with adrenaline, making your heart race with the action.

I appreciated the film’s attention to detail in setting up a solid environment.  While the ultimate realization of The Belko Experiment may fall flat, it meticulously sets up and gets rid of any loopholes that a worker might find to get out of the office.  We see it all the time when people are stuck in certain situations; audience members start yelling at the screen for the character to just do some simple task.  But, obviously they won’t do so because that idea would ruin the movie’s concept.  The script written by James Gunn accounts for all possible escape routes and quickly expunges the notion of fleeing from the characters’ minds, trapping them and forcing them to make a moral decision that affects countless other people.

The Belko Experiment

image via Bloody Disgusting!

Conclusion

I do, however, wish that the film was more creative than the final product turned out to be.  The film seems so focused on killing more people that it fails to do anything fun with its great concept.  However, it’s obvious that the kills are meant to take center stage.  Unfortunately, there’s too little thought put into the type of kills, making the film as a whole feel a little “run of the mill.”  The Belko Experiment in this instance becomes a frustrating film because you can see the potential it had to be much more than what the final product ended up being.

The Belko Experiment is a mixed bag.  There are certainly a lot of things to like and dislike about this movie.  As mentioned before, whether or not the film swings positively or negatively depends on your ability to handle violence.  This film is not for the casual moviegoer, but those who happen to enjoy gore and kills will certainly enjoy themselves.  It gets a C+.  The Belko Experiment may end up turning into a guilty pleasure for a lot of people.

The Belko Experiment

image via Trailer Addict

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Thanks for reading!  Do you want to see The Belko Experiment?  Comment down below!

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What movie topic should I discuss next?  Whether it be old or new, the choice is up to you!

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Nick Kush

A current young professional, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

20 Responses

  1. This site truly has all the info I needed concerning this subject and didn’t
    know who to ask.

  2. Yeaaahhhh, this movie wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. All guts and no glory (literally!). :/

    Something that keeps bothering me: (SPOILER ALERT!) the one girl, Dani, was new. So her surgical wound should’ve still been healing. So she would’ve been able to get hers out a lot faster than Mike or the others. If only she’d thought to try before he tried!

  3. I don’t know if I will be able to watch this movie. It sounds kind of like Saw. I struggle with movies like those, where there is a moral crisis. I start to think about the survivors and how they are supposed to live with the guilt of what they had to do to survive and then the entire movie gets ruined for me. Maybe I will wait for it to come out on Playstation to rent and maybe give it a try.
    Btw: Your reviews are spot on! I have really been enjoying them so far!

  4. jasonbleau says:

    I enjoyed it but in my review I noted that as much as the film tried to buck it’s cliches with a unique setting and premise it still felt cliche. I’ve seen this before, even if I’ve seen it better or worse I don’t think I’ll remember “The Belko Experiment” fondly even if it was a massively fun movie.
    Great review! You touched on a few details I didn’t in my own review so it’s great to read a different perspective!

  5. mireiadarko says:

    I really wanted to see it after watching the trailer pretty long ago, but if it’s more about guts than storyline I don’t know if I’ll end up going to the cinema for it. Amazing review, by the way!

  6. raistlin0903 says:

    Well…this certainly seems like a movie I want to watch someday. Don’t think I will catch in the theatres, but when it gets a dvd release I will certainly check it out. Great review as always ?

  7. I wish this film was about 15-20 minutes longer

  8. willybeatz says:

    This movie really gave me a Cabin in the Woods feel

  9. Anonymous says:

    How can you review this film without the elephant in the room?… Notably Battle Royale?

  10. Meli Kirk says:

    From the premise & trailers, I really hoped this would be a great movie. While I love gratuitous violence and gore, I hope that the storyline will be able to keep up. If it’s just a gut fest, I would rather save my money, stay home and watch movies on Shudder.

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