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Review: The Belko Experiment

A fun, yet uninspired festival of gore.

James Gunn is now most well known as the writer/director of the two Guardians of the Galaxy Films. Some Marvel fans may have forgotten that the first major film he directed was gory horror-comedy Slither. As the writer of The Belko Experiment, Gunn returns to his roots for a bloody good time.

With an office in rural Columbia, Belko Industries provides South American companies with the service of finding American employees. One day, local employees are turned away at the security gates. The eighty natively English-speaking employees are puzzled; yet continue on with their workday. Over the intercom comes a voice that informs the workers that if two of them have not been killed within the next two hours, four will die. The employees try not to panic, but two hours later four of their heads explode. The voice returns, informing the remaining employees that if thirty of them are not dead in the next two hours, sixty will be killed. Knowing that the threats are serious, chaos ensues.

Gunn and director Greg McLean have set up a film that really should work as a purely entertaining exercise. The necessary blood and gore are there, so horror hounds will certainly have that to rely on. Nevertheless, even at under ninety minutes, things become a bit tired when the number of surviving employees has been whittled down. The film has a strongly impressive cast of C-list “that guy” actors giving it their all to make the journey believable. Among them are John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane), Tony Goldwyn (Scandal), Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead), John C. McGinley (Platoon), and Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station). Unfortunately, Gunn writes a rather predictable final act, which leaves a sour taste. The Belko Experiment knows its audience, an audience that is sure to be pleased, yet it finally offers them something they will have seen many times before. A fun ride, but a familiar one nonetheless.

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Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.