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Review The Belko Experiment (2016): Battle Royale 26 without original and creative ideas of it's own!

genre: horror, thriller, action

(Normally I avoid spoilers but in this case I technically am not doing so since it was revealed in the trailer already. But just wanted to warn you in case you haven't seen the trailer.)

If you have seen Battle Royale or any film that is similar to it you will have a good idea of what you are going to get. I don't mind filmmakers borrowing or copying from other films. But what I do mind is if they don't add anything of their own that would make it fresh or give an interesting spin on the premise.

The Belko Experiment was a film I was very much looking forward too. Somehow I thought it was going to be a nice blend of horror and comedy. I was mistaken. It's dead serious. (Pun intended.) There is not that much humour to be found in this film. Certainly not The Office Space kind. There is nothing wrong with keeping it real and be super serious. Actually that had put me right on the edge of my seat. I was bracing myself for something fierce, brutal and terrifying. Only apart from the many predictable moments nothing surprising happens. Even the twist you can see coming from a mile away. It's the most pointless and unoriginal twist you can imagine. The only way you could not have seen it coming is if the title of this film had been different. Just saying!

Anyway the biggest issue with the film is the fact how convenient people behave. Sure if you push enough and put someone under immense pressure then very likely that someone is going to act out. But always the same way? I don't think so. There have been many examples in the news where normal people are involved in random incidents where no one could have predicted the outcomes. You know why that is? Because most people are unpredictable. Some people simply have a higher stress levels than others. Some might fare better because they are used to chaos or mayhem and some might lose the plot so much that they go ballistic. It's different for everyone and certainly not as convenient or predictable these types of movies have you believe. One of my main gripes with this film is the fact that people had allowed the Belko company to implant a chip in their head. The excuse given was that this way they could track employees in case they would get kidnapped since that was a common threat in Colombia. Well, here is a crazy idea. Why not have the company reside somewhere else than Colombia. Somewhere where kidnapping doesn't occur as much? I don't care what reason they would give me. I would never ever let a tracker or chip be implanted in me. The only way they could get away with that is if somehow they did it without me knowing or they forced me. But trust me I would put up one hell of a fight. And if it was required in order to stay employed I would refuse and go my merry way. I prefer my freedom over job security any day. On top of that these people also signed contracts where they wavered a lot of the rights employees usually have. If that is not a red flag then I don't know what is. Wavering rights and a chip in your head? No job is worth that kind of price. Apparently these people were idiots to begin with.

And they remain stupid for quite a while. Nobody in the film has intelligent conversations. None of them work together to outsmart the unseen villains. They easily could have but they did not even try. Even main character Mike Milch (played by John Gallagher Jr.) doesn't spill the beans when asked why he was cutting his neck. To be fair that seemed obvious to me but remember that I said that the people were stupid? You would think that he would tell the others who were unaware that the chips implanted in their heads could explode.

It's not that The Belko Experiment is bad. It actually is quite entertaining with enough gory and bloody moments to keep it interesting for a bit. But it's in the calmer moments where the film fails to grab attention and more importantly fails to impress and intrigue. Also the film doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Not much time is paid to morality or a political message. This could have been remedied with a good twist. Unfortunately that one never comes. Which made The Belko Experiment a very disappointing affair. I expected better writing from James Gunn. And director Greg McLean did much better with Wolf Creek. It's not a complete waste of time but I can't recommend it.

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