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The Belko Experiment will never be mistaken for high art, but it may be one of the most self aware horror films seen in the past decade. The film knows its audience well, and continues to up the stakes and scale as the story progresses. No, it’s not particularly original and is stupid to an incredible degree, but for what could have been a miserable slog, the film does a great job balancing dark humor with a great cast of characters.

A group of eighty Americans work for a government owned company named Belko, stationed in a high rise office building in Columbia. In what seems like just another work day, the office is mysteriously sealed and taken over by a hostile force that threatens to kill the employees if they don’t take part in a twisted game. With no way out and the threat of death at hand, coworkers and friends are forced to turn against each other in a survival game.

No, it’s certainly not an original premise, but the film is completely aware of it’s own stupidity and makes the most of it. Most effective are the characters; the film crafts a great ensemble with entertaining, if cliched, characters that make the threat real and the journey all the more entertaining. John Gallagher Jr gives a great performance as the film’s level headed lead, and a good amount of humor allows the film a good deal of awareness.

The violence is over the top and completely ridiculous, and while it’s certainly not for the faint of heart, it’s geared towards and audience that it won’t dissatisfy. Horror films seem to be fading in originality, but The Belko Experiment lacks the cynicism of a miserable slasher flick. It’s light on social satire or character development, but for those looking for a mindless fun time, it delivers. Grade: B-

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