MOVIE REVIEW – ‘The Belko Experiment’

Review by J.T. Johnson

DIRECTOR: Greg McLean
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Luis David Sansas
WRITER: James Gunn
MUSIC: Tyler Bates

“The Belko Experiment”, written by James Gunn and directed by Australian filmmaker Greg McClean, is advertised as a horror thriller. In reality, it is neither horrific or really all that thrilling. The movie plays like the filmmakers actually set out to make a more sophisticated slasher flick, but to mixed results.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you know the basic story. Several employees of Belko Industries are locked into their building in Columbia. A mysterious voice over the PA then tells them that they have a certain amount of time to kill a low amount of people, or they will double the number if the employees fail to do so. This inevitably causes panic and mayhem with the employees and eventually, there are some people who think that killing is the only way out while others try more humane ways of leaving the building.

The problem is the the ending of this film is predictable almost from the start. What’s worse is that there is an even dumber scene where they try to explain why this is happening but the revelations are lackluster causing the film to end with a dull thud rather than a spectacular ending. That doesn’t mean that this is the worst film I’ve ever seen, though.

McLean is actually a very capable filmmaker and not afraid to show off some gory imagery that would go along with a film such as this. Shot on an low-budget of $5 million, McLean does the best with what he is given to make some truly spectacular kills and a few interesting moments. It also helps that he has a rather strong central cast.

John Gallagher Jr., who did a great job last year in “10 Cloverfield Lane”, takes center stage in this movie. It is pretty obvious from the beginning of the movie that he is the main protagonist and you do want him to live. He also has a pretty strong antagonist as well.

Tony Goldwyn plays the person in charge of Belko’s building before the experiment begins. After it does, he quickly devolves into a calculating person willing to kill whoever he has to in order to survive. Goldwyn is one of Hollywood’s best villains from past films such as “Ghost” and “The Last Samurai”. Here, he brings out the calm yet brutal nature of his character quite well.

Beyond the decent filmmaking and the good performances, though, the film tries to convince me that it is also smart. This is where the movie ultimately fails. “The Belko Experiment” is nothing more than a flat, average thriller that is trying to be way more than it actually is and it is ultimately a well made yet entirely skippable film.

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