A substantive storyline amidst an austere South American setting presumed promise, but the combination of crass comedy with half-baked horror speedily signalled a destined to fall flat second rate screenplay, although as it advanced on its reckless & rocky reception road, it became clear that “The Belko Experiment” was barmy beyond belief, but to just what extent?
If there is one genre of film we struggle with, especially in the cinema, its horror, our squeamish nature not helping, all too often the use of blood & gore at the centre of these motion pictures, while the we find infusion of aspects such as comedy, psychology & the supernatural quite disturbing, the former concerningly so, as when we come across comedy in a horror film, we almost unanimously fail to see the funny side. That said, we don’t mind films that poke fun at horror, perhaps the best example being “Carry On Screaming”, while both “An American Werewolf In London” & “Lost Boys” sit comfortably in our DVD collection. Indeed, we are not completely averse to horror, the “REC” series of Spanish speaking screenplays also on our collection shelves, albeit that the third instalment with its crass comedic overtures has somewhat damaged the reputation of this full-on franchise of films, although we put our hands up in admitting a penchant for “The Omen” series, and with “The Quiet Ones”, “As Above So Below” & “Annabelle” on disc, our on the surface struggle with horror may not be as apparent as we think or thought. And it is perhaps for this reason that we gave “The Belko Experiment” cinema viewing consideration, well that as well as a smouldering sense of intrigue, as this farfetched fable of film had already been out on the circuit well over two weeks before we plumped to see it ahead of another supposed safe bet screenplay “The Promise” (more on that in our dedicated review), the trailer, both in the cinema & online, shielding much of the gory grunge, but moreover the morbid nature of the storyline which in a nutshell, surrounds the slaying of fellow office workers in a survival of the fittest extraordinary experiment by, to the sixty four individuals locked into the barren Bogota building, by forces unknown.
So, what, for us, made “The Belko Experiment” barmy beyond belief and is there a ray of hope that it might make it to our DVD collection? Well, after a sufficiently satisfactory start, despite there being a second rate feeling to the screenplay that was & is not helped by the comprehensive lack of recognisable actors, given we were expecting heaps of horror to come, the comedic quips by certain members of this obtuse collection of characters were both off putting and inappropriate, indeed even throughout the more gory & violent scenes later on in this morose motion picture, were perverse to say the least, we nevertheless accepting the fact that horror film fans actually enjoy seeing a slices of lighter hearted moments in these sorts of movies, but it simply doesn’t work for us, especially in this feature. But it wasn’t just the misplaced comedy, as the quality of the cinematography was far from its best, elements of the script wincingly woeful, while the creepy, racist & sexist intentions of one of the characters, Wendell Dukes (played by ex comedian actor John C McGinley) was uncomfortably disturbing to the point of utter disgust. Yet, him aside, there were some endearing elements to both the people in this picture and the film itself, the mystery & intrigue as to exactly who these experimental outside forces were, kept the interest sufficiently intense to stop us scarpering midway through, although the bewilderingly barmy bits such as exploding microscopic bomb implants, the selection of soundtrack songs, especially upbeat classical music choices that overlaid the obliterations & carnage that dominated the meat of this movie, were steps too far. Indeed, it seems we were not alone in this conclusion, as the critical response suggested similar, some stating that it lacks sufficient subversive content to consistently engage, thus so, despite the underlying intended but not delivered sophistication to the storyline, to see how humans react & interact with each other when survival instincts are imposed and, despite the cliff-hanger of an ending eluding to a follow up film, we won’t be buying the DVD or watching the sequel, if in fact there is one. (DISCO MATT)