The Movie Waffler New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - MAYHEM | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - MAYHEM

mayhem movie review
A deadly virus turns office employees violent.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Joe Lynch

Starring: Steven Yeun, Samara Weaving, Steven Brand, Caroline Chikezie, Kerry Fox, Dallas Roberts

mayhem movie dvd

With the sudden and dangerous outbreak of a virus that causes your id to lead the way, ensuring that you give in to every base instinct, times are tough. But for the soulless corporate lawyers toiling away at Towers and Smythe, it’s a banner time, and things can only get better. They manage to capitalise on the rampant violence caused by the so called ‘red-eye' virus (for the most obvious of reasons) while antibodies are being developed; most recently by defending and obtaining an acquittal for the first man to be charged with murdering someone under the influence of the ID7 strain.

Initially fresh faced but worn down over months of rat race bullshit is self confessed “dick” Derek (a winning Steven Yeun), slaving away at his mid-level management position and bucking for a chance at the brass ring while the usual cast of office assholes - the bully douchebag, the sycophantic assistant, strangely well informed oddball HR people, the time poor executives - are busy sharking their way to promotion city.

While Derek is trying to work out how and why he was thrown under the bus that very morning by Kara (Caroline Chikezie), the company’s poisonous spy-for-the-boss, over a case that she herself blundered, we are shown how the red eye virus is spreading throughout the office like wildfire.

mayhem movie

Newly (as of that day) unemployed, Derek is offered a very generous severance package, but before he can leave into his work-free life, Hazmat-suited people show up to seal them off and contain the outbreak while an antidote is pumped into the building for the next eight hours.

The quarantined 287 employees are now rats in a maze, and the rats want to kill each other.

So mayhem ensues.

Big Boss John Towers’ (Steven Brand) response is to lock himself and his board members into their top floor seclusion and wait it out while the lowly plebs do to each other what they will.

Derek teams up with Melanie (Samara Weaving), a client with a bone to pick with the corporation who found herself inadvertently caught up in the melee.

mayhem movie

His plan is to get to the top floor where the big bosses and the board (so called ‘The Nine’) are hiding out, plead for his job back and get a stay of eviction for Melanie.

Derek and Melanie’s  adventures on the way to the top form the bulk of the movie, and as the pair lurch from one luridly violent set piece to another, getting to know each other as they go, the audience can't help but find themselves entertained, even while they are cringing.

Front and centre is Yeun (who played the late, greatly-lamented Glenn in The Walking Dead). This tale of white collar aggression is a thrill ride horror that wants you to revel in the over the top kills and live vicariously through a ‘revenge on your boss and workplace’ fantasy that begs the question of how far can office bureaucracy and politics push the ordinary Joe when his only chance for survival is to literally turn cut-throat.

Yeun has a strong likeability, and with another fearless performance by The Babysitters’ Weaving adding kick-ass support, you can’t help but root for them.

mayhem movie

Personally I preferred the similarly themed The Belko Experiment for my office based Hunger Games, but it’s a close call and the throwaway moments here certainly add a much admired wicked sense of humour. I particularly enjoyed the guy running through the office yelling “fuck you, fuck you; you’re cool, fuck you” as he points to various co workers.

Nicely stylised direction from Joe Lynch gives it a vivid cool vibe, and the affable leads are especially key in maintaining the audience’s sympathies, even while we're watching them bludgeon people to death in slow motion.

Knowing and sharp but with the occasional unfortunate foray into buffoonery, this film is ultimately elevated by two dynamite central performances. Definitely a case of style over substance, but if you’re after visceral violent thrills and a snarky sense of humour then this would likely be the film for you.

Mayhem is on VOD now and DVD July 16th.