The Belko Experiment (3 stars)

Brutal little belter of a comedy-horror with Wolf Creek's Greg McLean at the helm and a script from James Gunn

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The Belko Experiment

Whether Rope or The Raid, Cube or Coherence, locked-down locations often make for great genre cinema. And there are few spaces more claustrophobic – or emotionally charged – than where you work. Especially if, as here, it's an isolated Bogotá office block full of bored ex-pats forced to take part in a bloody battle to the death.

On a seemingly ordinary day, the employees of Belko Corp arrive at HQ to find armed guards turning the local Colombian workers away. Amid mutinous mutterings, we meet our hero Mike (John Gallagher Jr), his girlfriend Leandra (Adria Arjona) and a cast of well-drawn characters including big boss Barry (Tony Goldwyn) and new girl Dany (Melonie Diaz). 'Honey, normal people do not work at Belko,' warns office extrovert Roberto (David Del Rio); nor are conditions quite as they appear. Without warning, metal barriers block all the exits and a disembodied voice informs employees: 'There are currently 80 of you in the building, in a few hours most of you will be dead.' What follows is a smart survival comedy-horror sheathed in corporate ruthlessness, the like of which we haven't seen since 2006's Severance.

Screenwriter James 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Gunn wrote the excellent Dawn of the Dead remake, and director Greg McLean made the horrifying Wolf Creek, so they know a fair bit about the setting of narrative traps. Although it never comes close to such twisted heights, Belko is, for the most part, a brutal little belter of a film, with satire and splatter laid on as thick as you like. Unappetising title aside, horror fans will know from the cameos – Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer's Michael Rooker, and John C McGinley from, well, everything – whether they'll be watching this or not. And those who do won't regret it.

General release from Fri 21 Apr.

The Belko Experiment

  • 3 stars
  • 2017
  • USA
  • 89 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Greg McLean
  • Written by: James Gunn
  • Cast: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona
  • UK release: 21 April 2017

One day, the employees of Belko Corp arrive at their Bogotá HQ to find the local staff being turned away; then steel shutters lock them in and they’re forced to battle to the death. A brutal little belter of a trap movie, with plenty of splatter and satire. Horror fans won’t regret it.

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