Game master type horror films have been pretty much dead ever since the original set of Saw films came to an end. That’s why this film appealed to me so much, a film that was not only getting a good about of publicity, but one that also appeared to give a fresh new twist on the genre.
80 employees at a company named Belko are held hostage in their office building and are forced to kill each other in order to try and keep themselves alive. Now this may seem like a simple and straightforward plot but the other variables in play make it so much more. The employees can’t run, they have no one to help them and all the personalities involved are just too combustible for any sort of happy ending here.
The thing that i love about the belko experiment is that it gets straight into it. Most horror films nowadays suffer from taking too long to get into the actual main part of the story but the belko experiment takes no more than 10 minutes before the employees are given their first chilling warning. This sets the pacing of the film off to good start as you’re attention is grabbed to see how the employees will react.
The employees are first told that in the next half an hour, two people must be killed or four will die. Watching them all dismiss the possibility of this instantly, makes their reactions a lot more meaningful when the first set of people are killed.
Upon discovering that the tracers planted in the back of their necks are the cause of the four employees deaths, our main protagonist Mike, aims to cut the tracer out the back of his head. This gives us another moment of high tension as he is given a countdown to stop or the people behind all of this will set the bomb off.
After this the employees are given their second instruction that in the next two hours, thirty of them must be killed otherwise sixty of them will die. Despite this massive turn in the story, this is where the film is at its weakest, yes we get another manic reaction from the employees but after Mike manages to calm everyone down, the film moves at a ridiculously slowly and boring pace. Sides form and we get a confirmation of the obvious antagonists (Barry and Wendell).
After weapons are found and a near hopeless attempt for help, the film begins to pick up again. Barry and Wendell gather all the employees in the lobby and begin to divide them into groups. This creates more tension and anticipation as people are chosen and executed one after another. Mike falls into this group but after a power outage, manages to escape along with everyone else. A bloodbath ensues as the employees aim to meet the target number of deaths. This creates some great gory action which is only followed by more when the target is not met.
The final stages of the film leave the last few main characters to fight it out with Mike the only man left standing by the end. The film doesn’t achieve the emotion it aims to with the final showdowns as we don’t get enough time to connect with any of the characters except for Mike. Mike eventually meets the men behind all of this, only to kill them all instantly, ruining all the momentum and superiority built up around these people during the whole film. We also get a hint of a possible sequel in the closing moments.
While i enjoyed the film and the story behind it, it really is held back by its character development seeing as it aims for the pay off to be based on emotion and the sheer relief for Mike. I feel this could of been focused on more with the time wasted after the first set of people were killed, just to give more characters the opportunity to be fleshed out.