If you like mindless splatter and especially if you like exploding heads, “The Belko Experiment” is the movie for you, if not the movie for me. Though pretending toward a satire of life in mundane office turned upside down the most violent of downsizing, “The Belko Experiment” is far too shallow for satire and far too pointless for me to care.
John Gallagher Jr, last seen opposite crazy John Goodman in “10 Cloverfield Lane” is Mike, the office nice guy at a seemingly typical American office. Except, this office isn’t in America. Despite being populated by an assortment of run of the mill office types, this office is in Bogota, Columbia, of all places and though non-descript, the setting creates unease right off the bat.
Why are a bunch of workaday office drones working in one of the most dangerous cities in the world, is a question that lends some early suspense to “The Belko Experiment.” It’s a clever bit of shorthand that, if you had not seen the trailer and weren’t aware of the premise of the film, you would make you take note of the setting.
Mike’s day is mostly ordinary; he flirts with his secret office romance, Leandra (Emerald City’s Adria Arjona), he confronts the office creep, Wendell (John C. McGinley) and shares an awkward moment with the bigwig COO Barry (Tony Goldwyn) who catches him in a moment with Leandra. Everything is mundane until a heretofore unheard of public address speaker screeches to life and informs everyone that this will not be just another day at the office.
The voice on the PA instructs that the office workers must kill their co-workers or the voice will do it for them in the form of a bomb in everyone’s neck. An indication that The Belko Corporation had this bloody endgame in mind all along is that they convinced their employees to get trackers in their necks to aid them in case they get kidnapped in Bogota. The implants are now revealed to be bombs and a gruesome end is ensured for just about everyone.
“The Belko Experiment” is a spiritual cousin to the “Saw” franchise. Both films center on God-like figures setting other people up to kill or be killed in a bizarre social experiment murder spree. The difference between the “Belko” and “Saw” however is the point and purpose, “Saw” has a point and purpose and “Belko” doesn’t.
As gruesome as “Saw” unquestionably is, Jigsaw is a strangely benevolent figure. Each of Jigsaw’s victims has the chance to survive if they put aside their self-centeredness and worked as a team with their fellow captives. The only reason Jigsaw victims die is because they are out for themselves and make selfish choices. There is no such equivalent in “The Belko Experiment.” The film is only an exploitation splatter flick with modest, mostly unrealized pretensions toward social satire.
Is “The Belko Experiment” a good exploitation-splatter flick? Yeah, if you like that sort of thing it’s fair to say this is on the higher end of that low-end genre. The film is clever at building and sustaining tension throughout and the gore is believably visceral but it’s far too pointless for my taste. None of the blood and guts matter. The characters are far too shallow for them to matter beyond how well their heads explode.
If well rendered exploding heads is enough for you, then by all means, enjoy “The Belko Experiment.”