Doug Reviews: The Belko Experiment (2016)

Written by James Gunn and directed by Greg McLean, The Belko Experiment is a gory thriller with a strong cast. However, is this a film you want to get locked in a building with?

In Colombia, a normal day at an American-owned company called Belko turns bloody when eighty employees are locked inside and told by a disembodied voice over the intercom that they have to kill each other in order to survive. After debating the issue for a period of time and then seeing that their captors aren’t playing around, the staff divides into hunters and hunted and the blood flows. The only question you’re left with is: why? Why am I watching this?

Just kidding. It’s not that bad, but it’s not that good either. For those who love mindless violence in their films, a la The Purge movies, The Belko Experiment definitely has that in spades. The film has several great moments and it also has that dark sense of humor that inhabits Gunn’s other indie films. However, at the end, there really is no suitable reason for why all this happens and the attempt Gunn and McLean make to explain it is weak at best. Also, there are a few moments where it feels like the characters read ahead in the script, which is the only explanation for how they behave at times. Mostly it involves any scene where the main character, Mike (John Gallagher Jr.), is involved and there is killing going on. He inexplicably survives a lot of stuff he shouldn’t and if the characters behaved logically within the confines of the world the movie has created, Mike would have been one of the first to go. It’s something that takes the viewer out of the film and, in all honesty, telegraphs the end.

The cast is good with what they’re given. Gallagher is a likable lead and Adria Arjona is also good as his co-worker and love interest. John C. McGinley is an absolute creep and great in his role, while Tony Goldwyn does fine as the company boss. Sean Gunn and Michael Rooker supply some comedic moments, but the real star is the ridiculously gory violence that slowly creeps into and takes over the movie. If you don’t like blood, stay away.

Overall, I felt like The Belko Experiment could have been a clever, gory thriller, but it seems to only be interested in being the latter. The payoff isn’t worth it at all and that along with the logic lapses in the script bring this one down several pegs for me.

Rating: C-


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