Photo courtesy of IMDB | Ridiculous circumstances, unrealistic characters and a predictable outcome all made for one very forgettable movie.
If you ever get to know the real me, you’ll know that I absolutely adore elimination-style shows and movies. There’s a pleasurable thrill in watching characters getting whittled away and trying to predict who the last person standing will be. Reality TV shows and murderous horror movies alike fulfill my desires for eliminations, and I unironically enjoy both despite their campy cliché-ness.
Going into The Belko Experiment, I expected some form of gratification. I knew the characters were all going to die and only one person would be left standing, which was enough to pique my interest. What I didn’t expect were the ridiculous circumstances, unrealistic characters and predictable winner that the movie laboriously churned out in the effort of securing a sequel.
Don’t get me wrong. The Belko Experiment has a lot of potential. The idea of forcing 80 people into an all-out office brawl to survive is promising. The issue lies entirely in the execution. What a movie like this needed was a subversion of the ending that I fully expected from the beginning (spoiler alert ahead).
The character that survives at the end is the male lead who is the primary focus during the opening scenes. I could see this coming a mile away the minute his budding romance with the female lead was hinted at prior to everything going haywire. I spent most of the movie hoping I was wrong, but as characters I continued betting on were getting picked off, I started feeling that sinking feeling that happens when I’m right and, for once, don’t want to be.
The movie unfortunately wastes a lot of potentially interesting characters to focus on the lifeless main character and his equally lifeless girlfriend. It also completely squanders a nail-biting, emotional showdown by killing off the female lead in favor of letting the male lead kill off his boss.
There are some neat characters to be explored, like the macho guy who struggles to kill anyone, the immigrant woman who manages to hide out for most of the experiment in the basement, an unfortunately stereotypical gay male character who is great at escaping and a stoner trio bent on causing chaos. Regretfully, these characters are all killed off in blatantly insulting ways in favor of pushing the three leads, none of which have any personality worth rooting for.
Any character I listed above would have been a better winner than the male lead, and I was extremely annoyed to see him win. The whole movie felt like bad fanfiction where the author is the main character that survives everything because they’re the author and that’s what they say. It might as well have been the wet dream of some office worker getting real tired of his coworkers annoying him by living their lives and socializing like normal human beings.
Even the gratuitous, gory death scenes couldn’t save this movie. A particular sequence in which the people running the experiment kill off 60 people by exploding microchips in their heads sticks out to me because of the pleasing violin music accompanying it. We know you studied irony with your Bachelor’s in film. Please use it better.
The Belko Experiment could benefit from examining what made movies like The First Purge so great and narrow its scope if it wants to make a sequel — not that I’m holding my breath for that.
By: Trever McKenzie | Online Editor