Despite its clear inspiration from Battle Royale and others like it, ‘The Belko Experiment’ is a poor imitation, failing to understand its the characters we should be caring about – not the buckets of blood, gore and violence. The characters never stray beyond the simple cliches they’re given and ultimately when the deaths inevitably occur, the lack of character development early on means we don’t care who lives or dies.
Locked in a remote office in Colombia, 80 Americans are forced to participate in a deadly game of “be or be killed”. Steel shutters suffocate the exterior preventing any of them from escaping and an ominous voice booms instructions on the intercom system. It doesn’t take long before chaos descends upon the office workers and they begin carving each other up in spectacular bloody fashion.
The faults with ‘The Belko Experiment’ run deep and its frustrating because there’s potential here for a decent thriller. The final reveal at the end is surprisingly well done and the first half of the film, despite its own problems, is passable – the motivations make sense and the tension rises in a decent manner. The second half, however, is where the film falls apart and ultimately where most of the issues lie. There’s some serious pacing issues, some of which is stemmed from introducing so many characters early on, never truly making us care about them and then quickly cutting between them as they try to stay alive. The frantic pace and poor editing don’t help matters either and ultimately, ‘The Belko Experiment’ is a failed experiment and arguably the worst in this genre.
This is before I’ve even mentioned things like expository dialogue at the start, plot holes, questionable character motivations – including the entire premise of the film which comes under scrutiny toward the latter half of the film – and more. Of course, I’m not going to spoil the film for anyone and as I mentioned before, the final moments of the film is arguably the best bit. It doesn’t make up for what’s come before but it is a nice pay off. Its such a pity though that the rest of the film doesn’t follow suit.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend ‘The Belko Experiment’ unless you’re a true fan of this genre and really want more to sink your teeth into. Hunger Games, Circle, Cube and Battle Royale (to name a few) all do this “kill or be killed” game more effectively and with interesting characters to back it up with. ‘The Belko Experiment’ might be high in gore and violence and have a neat little twist at the end, but it skimps out on interesting characters to care about and that is ultimately what the focus should be here.