***½ out of five stars

From the mind of writer/co-producer James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither) comes a darkly satirical thriller that was accurately described by Matt Donato as “Office Space meets Battle Royale.”

The setting is an office building located in Bogotá, Colombia. The building is part of Belko Industries, a non-profit organization run by the American government. One fateful day, all the outer doors become locked and a mysterious voice (played by Gregg Henry) on the intercom provides the employees with directions to survive that include murdering each other.

The film is incredibly suspenseful, with many unexpected twists and turns. There are several different phases to the Voice’s murderous “game,” each more brutal than the last. Enhancing the drama is the way in which the characters are all well-defined enough to make viewers care about the terror they face and the inhumane things they are forced to do for survival.

Given Gunn’s résumé, there is a strong sense of satire and humor to the proceedings. The snarky banter of the Belko staff mixes well with the film’s shocking moments of gory violence. And the corporate setting provides a clear subtext regarding the way governments and businesses treat their human workers as disposable.

While not excessively graphic, The Belko Experiment is not recommended for the squeamish. But gorehounds and fans of Gunn’s other works should find plenty to like. The Belko Experiment is open to all, but it is best to read its contract’s fine print.


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