The Belko Experiment
The Belko Experiment is the latest kill-or-get-killed film to lead the audience into a claustrophobic setting where the limits of human nature are tested. Directed by Greg McLean (of Wolf Creek fame) the violent and disturbing narrative begins by laying out several hot topics. From office politics to race, gender and class inequality, the plot is laden with potential. However, when the gore kicks in – and it does so forcibly – the initial ambition to widen the scope of the story falls by the wayside.
Belko is an American company based in a high-rise, isolated building in Bogota, Colombia. One seemingly mundane day at the office is interrupted when an unknown voice makes a chilling announcement through the company’s intercom. The eighty employees present are told that two of them must die within half an hour, and that the workers themselves must decide whom to kill and then execute the deed. When the instructions are resisted, a few people are murdered at random by the mysterious party to prove that the deadly game is not a joke. After the initial panic, tension and violence take over as employees adopt different, increasingly drastic, strategies, and grow more and more suspicious of one another.
The survival-of-the-fittest concept is far from fresh and the film does not attempt to add a unique twist to it either. The premise inevitably instigates (frequently explored) reflections on human nature in the face of danger, but no character challenges the expected course of events. There is a dystopian layer implying that the government uses people as disposable pawns of social experiments and that, taken to the extreme, this dehumanisation process could lead to terrifying levels of brutality. Subtle implications aside, the film lacks a meatier dimension beyond the carnage.
The story succeeds in provoking discomfort and arousing enough interest to keep one absorbed from beginning to end, but it never induces a psychological reaction. Since action dominates, the characters are inevitably underdeveloped, thus failing to produce an overall, lasting impact. The decision to shy away from social analysis does, however, keep the focus tight and away from banal considerations.
While it does not shine, this is a straightforward movie that will hit the spot for many moviegoers. There is some nice work with the lighting, and the soundtrack – a mix of Latin covers of famous hits – does not go unnoticed. Boasting some compelling elements, The Belko Experiment is satisfying as an action thriller, and it is clearly committed to entertain.
The Belko Experiment is released nationwide on 21st April 2017.
Watch the trailer for The Belko Experiment here: