The Belko Experiment (2017)

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The Belko Experiment is a film totally committed to its blunt premise. Characters are there to be killed brutally, what little story there is is only there to provide the most basic of genre frameworks. It’s exactly the film it wants to be and your enjoyment of it totally depends on your own tolerance for this kind of thing. Me? Yeah I can get behind it…to a certain extent.

With its mix of dark humour and savage violence, as well as a revolving door of faces from the James Gunn repertoire (Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, Gregg Henry), it’d be easy to take this at face value as an undiluted James Gunn Experience. But the film is only written by Gunn and in fact directed by Wolf Creek helmer Greg Maclean. The two have perfectly malleable sensibilities, however, so the distinction between where one voice ends and the other begins is even harder to gauge. And yet, people who do enjoy this movie seem to credit Gunn primarily, no doubt because he’s the more known of the two. To slight Maclean, though, feels wrong. I probably have more fondness for Wolf Creek than I do any of Gunn’s own movies (not a dig, just a preference) so I know where my loyalty lies. For a movie with a bloodlust as giddy as this, the moments you remember will always be the squishy, sensory ones. So when the film takes the time to bask in an extended musical montage of heads exploding (though granted Kingsman got there first), you’ve got to point to the director for making it work as well as it does.

Ultimately though, this is a silly and disposable experience built on only the thinnest of concepts. The film has no real allegiance to any of its characters which, on the plus side, means some unexpected faces occasionally succumb to the kill-crazy premise, but the trade off is that you find yourself lost in a cluttered ensemble with no connection to anyone beyond a vague curiosity about when and how these people will die bloody, violent deaths. With movies like this, sometimes it’s just hard to pluck up the courage to actually give a shit. Fine for a once over, but practically forgotten as soon as it’s done.

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