I am a fan of horror movies, which automatically makes me skeptical of 99% of the horror trailers that I see. The few that aren’t outright boring-looking end up showing all their best scenes in the trailers and are ultimately PG-13 high school fodder. So, when I saw the first trailer for The Belko Experiment, I perked up, then shut down right away. The idea is unlike anything that we have ever seen before, but it leads me to question how well the execution will be. The way I see it, The Belko Experiment has a 50/50 chance to be a horror great or the next box office horror flop.
One thing that the movie has going for it is a solid cast. There are few better character actors in my book than John C. McGinley, and Michael Rooker has had my attention ever since he starred in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The rest of the cast is a combination of, “that one guy from that one thing” and up and coming faces. This mix of actors makes me feel like this movie is good enough to get attention from known actors but not high enough profile to be a vehicle for a household name.
From what we can tell from the previews, The Belko Experiment centers around an office building where everyone is going about their daily routine until the building suddenly locks down. In an instant, coworkers go from office friends to real life gladiators thanks to the hand of some unknown entity. The preview seems to paint this movie as equal parts Office Space and Battle Royale as competitors who choose not to participate get their heads blown off thanks to a device implanted in their necks.
The one thing that will take this film from so-so horror to, “you have to see this movie,” is the social commentary. It’s not just about murder; it is about what a human being will do when faced with a life or death situation. This year has already proven that horror fans are accepting of a little social commentary with their gore as Get Out has done amazingly well at the box office. If done right, The Belko Experiment will draw every single one of us into its psychosis and have our hearts racing and palms sweating.
If done wrong, The Belko Experiment will be an hour and a half of yawning and checking our watches to see how much longer we have to endure the pain. If this movie can’t manage to draw you into the experience, it will end up being a 90-minute blood fest which flatlines with viewers. I have high hopes for this movie, but I have one more prediction for it. I think that The Belko Experiment is not going to do so hot in the theaters, but will enjoy a healthy home video release.