“The Belko Experiment” vs. “Mayhem”

As quarantine restrictions begin to lift, and many are physically returning to their places of work, all of the frustrations and stresses associated with it are returning as well.

Anyone who’s ever worked as stressful office job can relate to the desire to just lose control and fight to the death…well perhaps not in that extreme way.

But either way, movies like The Belko Experiment and Mayhem can be extremely cathartic to anyone who’s ever been frustrated with their office job.

So we thought it would be fun to take a look at both of them and definitely declare which is the superior “fighting to the death in the office” movie!

Round I – Protagonist
Both movies feature an underdog of sorts in the main character role. They must rise to the occasion and deal with a corrupt boss whose true colors come out in this desperate situation.

The Belko Experiment’s Mike Milch (John Gallagher Jr.) is initially completely against the idea of killing anyone, despite what “the voice” instructs them to do.

While he does fight off several aggressive coworkers, even making it as the final winner, Mike is mostly reacting to what’s happening around him. He’s a great character who only kills in self-defense, but he’s not really driving the story.

Mayhem’s Derek Cho (Steven Yuen) on the other hand, is a much more active protagonist. The outbreak of the ID-7 virus brings out the worst in everyone, leading to a quarantine. Derek could have very easily stayed put.

But after feeling so wronged by his company using him as a scapegoat, he decides to do something about it.

While Mike is just merely trying to survive, Derek is fighting his way to the top floor, much like a video game character moving up to the final boss!

Round I Winner – Mayhem

Round II – Story
When you have a slightly absurd premise like office workers fighting to the death, you need to find a reason to justify it story-wise. Mayhem takes an interesting approach with a virus that brings out people’s baser instincts.

Between its violent nature and the red eye effect it has on its victims, it has a few similarities with the rage virus from 28 Days Later. That said, the ID-7 has some very plot-convenient elements.

It’s supposed to make people completely lose inhibition, bringing out just the ego, but both Derek and Melanie (Samara Weaving) make moral choices to help each other.

When the characters’ motivation for violent behavior is viral or scientific, it’s harder to keep it consistent, while also making sure that characters make the right choices for the plot.

The Belko Experiment forces its characters into their death-fighting the good old fashioned way, kill or be killed. While this is a more clichéd approach, it’s cliché because it’s effective.

Initially, everyone in Belko Experiment isn’t ready to start killing, but once “the voice” demonstrates the ability to detonate the tiny explosive in everyone’s head, they’re forced into it out of desperation.

Many are even horrified at what they have to do, but do it anyway for their own survival. Overall, it makes Belko Experiment far more compelling, at least in this department.

Round II Winner – The Belko Experiment

Round III – Side Characters
Mayhem certainly did a better job with its protagonist Derek, but it almost comes at the expense of the other characters.

While Melanie makes for a great sidekick and Irene Smythe (Kerry Fox) is a brutal villain that we just love to hate, the rest of the side characters in Mayhem are relegated to just a few lines of voiceover that tells rather than shows.

The Belko Experiment may have not have the better main character, but that’s because it’s more of an ensemble piece with a variety of very interesting characters including the former Special Forces COO Barry (Tony Goldwyn), the perverted Wendell (John C. McGinley), the ever crafty Dany (Melonie Diaz), the fierce Leandra (Adria Arjona), the hilarious Mary (Sean Gunn) and Chet (Abraham Benrubi), and many more!

The first act takes its time setting up all these characters and showing us their personalities. Thus, when they start killing each other, we feel it more as we really got to know these people.

Round III Winner – The Belko Experiment

Round IV – Style/Tone
When a movie deals with ordinary people killing each other, its tone can either be dark and gritty like that of Hunger Games or Battle Royale, or it can take the dark comedy approach like The Hunt, and these two films.

Many have criticized The Belko Experiment for jumping between the dark comedic tone and a super violent gritty one, particularly during the “California Dreaming” sequence.

But this was far from the first movie to use upbeat music juxtaposed with visceral imagery. Cannibal Holocaust is arguably one of the most violent and controversial movies ever made, and its score was unusually cheery and upbeat for subject matter so grim.

That said, Belko Experiment does still have the tonal back and forth. While Mayhem maintains is adrenaline filled, dark humor throughout. As the virus spreads and everyone’s heart rates are elevated, the camerawork and editing also become more manic and unhinged.

Round IV Winner – Mayhem

Round V – Kills
Of course the deciding category of this showdown has to come down to the kills. The Belko Experiment may have about ten times more kills than its opponent, but the vast majority of them are either just done by gunshot, or their heads being detonated.

For a movie with so many kills, it’s surprising there isn’t more of a variety. On the other hand, Mayhem features a really fun fight involving a nail gun and office supplies, as well as a great final villain kill by throwing him several stories to his death. It may not have as many kills, but they feel far more fun and creative.

Round V (and overall) Winner – Mayhem

Which movie do you like better and why? Let us know in the comments!

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