Where Are We Now? 1 : Experimenter

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Trent Trent: Hey, you corporate drones with crap-ass “yobs”! You think you got your nice corner office and you’re branching out to new territories, when you get sent to a dubious country like “Venelombia,” wherever that is. Then you get locked in a creepy building and ordered to assassinate all your co-workers. Last suit standing! That’s the premise of Greg McLean’s awesome goregonaut “The Belko Experiment.” Yeah, I just made up a word that sounded right at the moment. Use it. “Goregonaut.” It means “A Juggernaut of Gore.” “Juggernaut,” by the way, is German for “A sailor happily lost in a sea of jugs.”

Anyway, back in the past, our ancestors had to watch David Cronenberg’s “Scanners” to see three or four heads explode. “The Belko Experiment” sets the new bold standard for head explosions. It is up for tomorrow’s daring new generation of filmmakers to push technology and artistry to the very limit, until ALL the heads in the known universe explode in unison.

Father Hank Hank: “Scandal”’s Tony Goldwyin “Scrub”’s, John C. McGinley, and “The Walking Dead”’s James Rooker! THAT’s how you gather together a cast of guys so annoying that I cheered when they got deported to South America! Cherry!

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Tracey Tracey: I like the diverse casting but Melonie Diaz and Adria Arjona (daughter of the great Guatemalan singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona) are human veils, here to distract from the fact that this is the kind of story that breeds xenophobia by being set in foreign lands. “WELL, I hear there is no law or humanity in ‘those countries’; I guess American companies CAN easily murder people there without repercussions!”

adria arjona

 

Beatricia Beatricia: A group of people are forced into a building and then they turn against each other? How relatable! “The Belko Experiment” is an absurd re-imagining of the Jonestown Massacre. Completely lost me when a particular exchange happened. Let me paraphrase to avoid spoilers, but I think all you dears will agree with me that this is bad screenwriting, and it comes from James Gunn, who directed the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies.

Person A: (pointing at what looks like little pellets)  “What are those?”

Person B: “Those are bombs.”

Person A: “Oh, ok!” (proceeds to nonchalantly GRAB THE BOMBS and POCKET THEM!)

Hell no, that would never happen. What inhuman reaction is that? Any warm-blooded being would skip three steps back and THEN maybe ask questions like “Are these the kind of bombs that detonate upon being touched?” No one reacts like: “Oooh BOMBS! Yum yum, I’m gonna grab me a bunch and put them in my pocket for later!” No cherry!

Cousin Franz Cousin Franz: Yet another remix of “And Then There Were None” with “The Most Dangerous Game.” Get any number of individuals within a restricted locale and involve them in deadly games, and you have an intrinsically compelling story at an animal level. The challenge is to bring finesse, psychological insight, and some commentary about SOMETHING to the proceedings. “The Belko Experiment” promises a lot (decent actors, tight editing, awesome Spanish covers of The Mamas and the Papas, a suggestion that there might be some statement on cut-throat corporate culture). But it fails, because this terrible, worthless experiment could have been set at a church or a jail or a hospital or a high school with identical results. There are none of the witty “Office Space” gags that could have made all the violence worth our while. “When forced to do something, people will do it” is not any kind of an insight. Greg McLean once filmed a genuinely horrifying movie called “Wolf Creek.” Go watch that instead, or, for eerier psychological thrills, try all these recent, underrated movies: “The Stanford Experiment,” “Experimenter,” “Not Safe For Work.”

Grandpa Felicius Grandpa Felicius: Dismal film-making devoid of any moral center. Mere carnage.

Blurbarella Blurbarella: “Corner Office — Corporate Building — Co-workers– So Annoying– Murder– Without Repercussions– Agree with Me– BOMBS! BOMBS! Yum yum– Deadly– Carnage.”

Father Hank Hank: Sometimes Blurbarella worries me.

2 out of 6 Cherries

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