Movie Review: The Belko Experiment Mixes Horror and Comedy in an Extremely Bad Day at the Office

Movie Review: The Belko Experiment by - movie logo

The Belko Experiment is an original horror-comedy movie written by James Gunn, who is best known as the writer-director of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but actually has an extensive horror pedigree going all the way back to his beginnings with Troma Films.

If you’ve seen any of Gunn’s horror films or online shorts, you know he likes to inject a healthy dose of dark humor that at times borders on strange and sick…but in a good way.

That blend of horror and comedy is the backbone of The Belko Experiment which is set in a lone office building in the middle-of-nowhere outside of Bogotá, Colombia. It starts out with the employees arriving at work, amidst an over-abundance of new security protocols.

Movie Review: The Belko Experiment by - Belko Corp employees

We meet many of the employees, and just another day at the office soon turns into a deadly game of survival as they become trapped inside and ordered to kill one another to stay alive.

The spoiler-free review is this film balances the laughs and the carnage well, and it also as an unexpected psychological element that makes you question what you would do if it were you. Director Greg McLean (Wolf Creek) keeps the pressure on the characters and it doesn’t quite end the way you think it will.

This film isn’t for the easily squeamish, and the kills are not subtle, but The Belko Experiment is one I look forward to watching again. Horror fans should put this on their watch lists.

Continue scrolling for the review with possible spoilers…

Movie Review: The Belko Experiment by - movie logo

As I mentioned above, The Belko Experiment starts as the employees arrive in the morning for work at the Bogotá.office of The Belko Corp, where a bunch of North American transplants work to assist U.S. corporations hire employees for South American markets.

We get brief introductions to some of the main characters as they go through a massive security checkpoint, which seems to be new to the regulars. These introductions continue inside the building as we get to know all the principal employees and how they interact with each other. Naturally some employees are a bit abrasive. Others are just going through the routine on another work day.

Movie Review: The Belko Experiment by - John Gallagher Jr + Adria Arjona

All of this comes to a screeching halt…literally…as a voice comes over the intercom and tells the employees that they must kill 30 of their fellow employees or 60 of them will be killed by those holding them captive.

It’s a joke, right? Right?

The soon learn that it isn’t as the building seals up with metal plates sliding over the doors and windows. The tension is enough to make one’s head explode. Which it does for several employees as the captors make it clear they are not playing around.

Movie Review: The Belko Experiment by - Belko Corp employees

It’s at this point another day at the office turns into a multi-floor Battle Royale steel cage match. Some employees hide. Some adopt a “kill or be killed” attitude. And a select few try to figure out how to save everyone…which gets harder by the minute.

Once the mayhem starts, it’s fast, and gory, and anything but subtle. This isn’t about earning style points with the kills. This all about survival. Though I will say there are a few inventive kills…along with a couple of “WTF!” ones, too.

Even though the situation isn’t a joke, Gunn writes in a lot of dark humor that, to me, culminates in a hilariously weird multiple-kill scene starring Gunn’s brother Sean as a stoner employee not quite grasping the situation.

Movie Review: The Belko Experiment by - Sean Gunn

As the two lead protagonists, John Gallagher Jr. and Tony Goldwyn play the ying-yang of the moral dilemma at hand well. The cast also features many fine character actors, such as Michael Rooker, John C. McGinley, Rusty Schwimmer, Adria Arjona, Melonie Diaz, Owain Yeoman, Brent Sexton, Abraham Benrubi, and Gregg Henry.

I loved the use of Latin versions of American pop songs like “California Dreaming” and “I Will Survive” to set the mood, as well. You find yourself humming along at the worst moments before you realize you’re doing it.

Movie Review: The Belko Experiment by - Owain Yeoman + Tony Goldwyn + John C. McGinley

Bottom Line

The Belko Experiment isn’t a perfect horror movie. It’s a bit bleak at times, we don’t get a lot of time with many of the characters so their deaths are more body counts than meaningful, and the twist ending has a lot in common with a plot point of 2011’s Cabin in the Woods.

But overall, it’s a solid blend of terror, tension, turmoil, and a twisted sense of humor. The special and practical effects are well-done, too. I loved it, and will probably buy it when it’s out on DVD.

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The Belko Experiment

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars
Director: Greg McLean
Writers: James Gunn
Cast: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Rusty Schwimmer, Owain Yeoman, Brent Sexton, Abraham Benrubi, Gregg Henry

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About zengrrl

I'm Michelle Snow, the writer and creator of Zengrrl. I write about travel, entertainment, women's issues, health, body positivity, and more, both for this blog and freelance. I have also authored/co-authored four guidebooks on Orlando and Florida. If you aren't already following me, the links are below, as well as on the top right of this page. Thanks!

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Comments: 14

  1. Elizabeth March 31, 2017 at 5:57 am

    I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds right up my street! I’ll have to suggest it to my husband for our next movie night.
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  2. Emma March 29, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Sounds horrific in a good way – Horror is one of my favourite genres and i find it interesting to see how people react when faced with a kill or be killed situation – sounds like it will delve into the human psyche quite well – will have to go watch it!

  3. Clark Albert March 28, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Scary, I will give it a try if someone is with me this weekend to watch =(

  4. Sheri March 27, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Yikes, this one is definitely not for me but I can see why it would appeal to people who love these kinds of movies. I am too much of a scaredy-cat.

  5. Anna nuttall March 27, 2017 at 6:59 am

    This move sound really interesting. I have to see if I can get it over here in the uK.
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    • zengrrl March 27, 2017 at 7:49 am

      Hey Anna! According to James Gunn, the UK should be getting it in theaters April 15, 2017! =)

  6. R U S S March 27, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Are they already showing this on the big screen? I’m into thrillers and scary movies. I watch all sorts so I will surely watch this one. I’d like to know what that twist is at the end.
    R U S S wrote this post…Things I Love Sundays: Unplugged.My Profile

    • zengrrl March 27, 2017 at 7:50 am

      It is in theaters in the US right now. =)

  7. Elizabeth O. March 27, 2017 at 1:33 am

    It sounds really intense! I think it’s a must see especially if you like thrillers. I would like to see how the whole thing turns out.

    • zengrrl March 27, 2017 at 7:55 am

      The ending is definitely what you expect Elizabeth! Thanks for reading the review! =)

  8. Wendy Polisi March 26, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Interesting movie! The latest small-budget horror film from Blumhouse, the studio behind genre hits like the Purge and Insidious franchises.

    • zengrrl March 27, 2017 at 7:53 am

      That is correct Wendy! They’ve also put out the SInister, Paranormal Activity and Ouija series of horror films, among many others. The Belko Experiment has a lot of good people behind it! =)

  9. Jasmine Eclipse March 26, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    This movie sounds terrifying, but also really good!! I love myself a good thriller/horror film, and this one sounds like something I need to check out. Thanks for sharing it!

    • zengrrl March 27, 2017 at 7:54 am

      It’s definitely a visual ride Jasmine! =)