Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: The Belko Experiment

of 7 viewers "Liked" "The Belko Experiment" (2017, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

The Berkeley Blazer - "The Basic Bitch Bottom Line on The Belko Experiment is that it's Lord of the Flies meets The Office by way of Battle Royale. Indeed, if our protagonists don't remind you at least a little of Pam and Jim, then you probably have never seen that show. This is an effective horror satire of ultra-violence that, like Lord of the Flies draws on personifications of certain contrasting outlooks to make certain socio-political observations, which while engaging wouldn't really matter if the film were a bore, and happily it's not. The acting here was impressive for the most part and I found the film managed to make me care about the fate of most of these characters and become moved when they met their grizzly fate. This was an aspect of The Belko Experiment that particularly impressed me: it manages to clearly convey its greater points while remaining emotionally engaging, terrifying, and often enough fairly hilarious. The problem with Belko, besides the eye-rolling dial it in ending, is that there is really no takeaway here. It didn't change anything for me cinematically or intellectually and I'll probably never watch it again, but it really doesn't have to because it's so engaging while it lasts. You are drawn in to the predicament of the characters from the get go and I imagine most viewers imagining what they would do in this situation as well as planning out who they'd team up with and how to protect themselves. If you can stomach the violence and appreciate horror with a sardonically satirical edge, you could do much worse than The Belko Experiment." - 3.5 Stars

The Ascendant (R) - "Of any genre film released this year, The Belko Experiment (2017) should have been an instant knockout. The script was penned by Troma-born Writer/Director James Gunn, responsible for such films such as Slither (2006), Tromeo and Juliet (1996), Super (2010) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Behind the lens, lying in wait, was Writer/Director Greg McLean, the Australian-mastermind behind Wolf Creek (2005), Rogue (2007) and Wolf Creek 2 (2013). Unfortunately, even with its Genre-Pedigree, The Belko Experiment (2017) utterly fails to resonate as a coherent or interesting film. Its razor-thin script is much less clever than it truly believes it is, as are the White Collar characters that reside inside of it. Its lead character Mike Milch (played by John Gallagher Jr.) doesn't feel the least believable within this script, neither does any character that follows his lead (and there are many). Strangely enough, the characters within this script that refuse to orbit around its lead character, are the ones you'll remember the most, speaking to (at the very least) Gunn & McLean's experience writing and directing characterizations of that ilk. Through and through The Belko Experiment (2017) plays like a Direct-To-Video film (lacking Gunn & McLean's signatures/trademarks as Writers/Directors), specifically made for Joe & Jane Six-Pack and not for the genre fans that have salivated over the collective work of Gunn & McLean the past 20 years. If you haven't seen The Most Dangerous Game (1932), The Lord of the Flies (1990), Battle Royale (2000), The Running Man (1987) or even The Purge (2013), this film might come off as original and enthralling to you, it even might be shocking. To the rest of us, it's as mundane and predictable as daily office-life." - 2 Stars

Trash - "You know what's cool? Negotiating your salary at a corporate job. Because man, wouldn't another $5k a year really help you out? Of course, your boss is gonna bargain you down to 3, but god damn it, you got that 3, and what a victory. But a few thousand dollars don't mean shit to a corporation, and neither do you. The Belko Experiment's main function is as a nasty splatterfest, cruel and blunt, using an obvious commentary on how shitty the corporate career is as a method to murder an entire building of characters. The gore is rad as hell, and the movie doesn't shy away from getting crazy brutal. I love a good death game, cos the way I look at it, life's just one big death game, yeah? Shout out to John Gallagher Jr. and Sean Gunn, it's a damn good cast. I'm angry, I'm frustrated, and for 90 minutes The Belko Experiment gave me a wicked grin." - 5 Stars

Clark Little - "A "Purge"/"Battle Royale" premise stuck in a Dunder/Mifflin work environment. Given the setting and location of the story, I would have enjoyed more creative kills. The ending was completely ridiculous yet enjoyable and it left me with a pessimistic view for the future of humanity. However, I had more fun with this movie than in any of the more recent “kill or be killed” films and when a film can hit all those notes, it doesn’t go unnoticed with me." - 3.5 Stars

Huntress - "After a brief introduction to a building full of people, The Belko Experiment turns into an hour and a half of unapologetic bloodshed and death. I must admit, as a full time 9 to 5er, I couldn’t help be tickled by the inventive and just plain cruel usage of the mundane objects that cover my desk, and the parallels to Orwell’s Animal Farm were especially pronounced for me. But I decided this first watch was better off without reading too much into deeper and underlying themes. Although you could absolutely find deeper meanings in the relationships and choices contained within this film and building." - 4 Stars

Dabbles - "I went into this movie with little to no expectations but I ended up really enjoying it. John Gallagher was a really good performer throughout. Gave me a Lord of the Flies feel. Worth a watch." - 4 Stars

Lord Battle - "The Belko Experiment was born of a James Gun script and helmed by Greg McLean and, even though I'm a huge Slither fan (haven't seen Guardians) and an even bigger Wolf Creek fan, I was just not excited for this film. Maybe because I feel haunted by comic book films like I'm the F'n Birdman or maybe it's because The Darkness was such a POS but I pushed to screen a double feature at the Overlook. I was out voted by every creature so the choice was outta my hands. Now I realize this all sounds like a build up to why I hate this film and honestly I didn't have fun watching Belko. This shit left me feeling disturbed and I love watching horrible cinema. I love hunting down found footage and some of the best found footage taps into a non-Hollywood "is this real?!" vibe but fails to truly leave me feeling shitty inside. The Belko Experiment succeeded in this by setting up 70 something characters to kill, of which 40 were padding, 20 were secondary but fleshed out enough to be "that guy" or "oh she reminds me of", and 10 where typical movie trope main characters but all 70 realistically reflected a relaxed corporate environment. Now I know it may not seem like it, but Lord Battle is riddled with empathy (you don't hangout with a goblin like Dabbles otherwise) and when the secondary batch started to be dispatched it was just brutal. The violence is not the Dwight vs Jim gorefest you were hoping for (to be fair there is a little of this), it's actually more along the lines of a preachy cautionary tale with employees cracking jokes while being juxtaposed with executions that are cold and more foreign found footage feeling than Evil Dead 2-esque. So I left the theatre thinking "whoa, I feel bad" but I think that feeling is validation for the film and taught me a lot about the genre I love so much. Too bad it came from a misfire from two filmmakers I really enjoy but imperfect films are the ones I find truly beautiful." - 4 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

It seems people can't decide whether The Belko Experiment was brutal and inappropriate or fun and most importantly funny. I think it's fair to say that both parties would agree that the situation is at least highly implausible and in no way is trying to ruin your 9 to 5 by adding some new death game anxiety. It's actually kinda funny when you think about it, since another less likely to happen film of the Death Game variety is really about to happen. And I am of course talking about everyone's favorite film The Hunger Games. Below is a excerpt from an article about the Hunger Games-esque TV show called "Game2Winter" from The Siberian Times, if you want to read the insane full article I'll include a link below. If a RL death game isn't your cup of tea, skip below to find a truly fun (if a bit spoilery) version of The Belko Experiment.

Real-life adventurers to a 'professional blonde' queue to participate in the ultimate brutal television reality contest, where 'rape and murder' are not banned.

The show to be broadcast worldwide on the web starting in July will see 30 participants, 15 of them women, ditched on a large island in the Ob River, the seventh longest in the world, chasing a 100 million rouble ($1.7 million) prize on a nine month survival mission in winter temperatures as low as minus 50C.

Location of Game2Winter

Called Game2:Winter, the reality TV programme has quietly dropped a shocking rule that stated: 'Everything is allowed. Fighting, alcohol, murder, rape, smoking, anything.'

When asked if he will intervene if there is 'physical violence, rape, a murder', organizer Yevgeny Pyatkovsky, 35, a Novosibirsk millionaire, told The Siberian Times: 'No we won't. I am pretty sure there will be fights, and more. We are not scared of negative reaction if that happens either.'

Show creator Yevgeny Pyatkovsky

He insisted it would be made clear to the international participants ahead of the show 'that punishment will follow according to the Russian Criminal Code'. In other words, any action would be for the police or other law enforcement agencies only, not the show's organizers.

(This is the Belko I expected)

-Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized at Century Theatres for a preview night screening on 3/16/2017
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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