To understand why I even went out to see this movie you have to understand how much I love the movie Battle Royale. It’s a very over the top movie about school children who are sent off to an island and forced to kill each other for survival. When I first saw the trailer for The Belko Experiment I thought that it had the potential to be the American version of Battle Royale that just happens to be set in an office building. While I did enjoy myself, I couldn’t shake how underwhelming it was.
The first thing that needs to be mentioned is how on and off the acting in the film was. The characters range from grounded to completely over the top caricatures. Our lead actor John Gallagher Jr. is who most of the grounded acting revolves around. I’ve liked him in pretty much every movie I’ve seen with him and he’s once again great here. The only other more grounded performance I enjoyed was Michael Rooker who isn’t in this movie nearly as much as he should have been. The actors who are going way above and really hamming it up have trouble finding a good way to ride that line of absurdity. While John C. McGinley and James Earl flourish in those roles, Adria Arjona, Sean Gunn, and Tony Goldwyn didn’t really do it for me. It felt forced and awkward whenever they spoke.
In a movie like this, the plot is a lot less important than in other movies. What I valued here was more so the creativity of the violence. This is an office building so I wanted to see creative ways for people to die from every day office supplies. I didn’t really get that here though. Most of the kills were uninspired and generic. Sure there was a lot of blood and props should be given to the studio for being able stretch the budget (Blumhouse is a master at doing this), but I wanted them to push it a bit further.
The character progression also left a lot to be desired. While I understand that in this type of movie most of the characters are there just to be death fodder, the ones who do stay alive for at least a little while should have something more to them. For the most part you can pick out who in the movie is going to be a problem as soon as you see them on screen. There are a group of characters who don’t believe killing is right and they remain that way. There are some who are morally conflicted as to whether they should kill or not and they stay that way too. Then there are the assholes who are willing to kill anyone and they stay like that the whole way too. It would have been a great dynamic to see a main character flip from not wanting to kill to going on a murderous rampage. Everything was just so predictable. Oh and there is one character in the movie who had potential for a great character arc. When things look like they’re going to hit the fan she decides to separate from everyone. The movie spends a lot of time following her around and cutting back to what’s going on with her. This lands up being for nothing because they land up throwing it all away near the end of the film. It felt like a huge waste of time, and considering that this movie has about a 90 minute runtime, they didn’t have that much time to waste.
I was kinda iffy on the end of the film too. While the developments were pretty cool, they were once again predictable. The Belko Experiment had the ending I pictured it having the second I saw the trailer for the film. I mean the exact ending. It also hints a sequel that we’re likely never going to see because the movie isn’t doing so well in the box office. The sad part is that the sequel has potential to have everything that this movie was missing.
Overall, The Belko Experiment was entertaining, but still a major letdown. At every turn it could have found a way to stand out and do something unexpected, but instead it took the easy route. The characters don’t really amount to anything and some of the actors don’t do well in their role. There’s a lot of death, but the majority of it doesn’t embrace the over the top nature of the film. It wasn’t a terrible film, but it’s forgettable.
The Belko Experiment gets a 55/100