Mayhem: Be Your Own Boss
Dir. Joe Lynch (2017)
When a virus that lowers all inhibitions spreads throughout a corporate headquarters, allowing the workers to display their basest instincts.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
A corporate law firm hired to defend a murderer who was afflicted by the rage virus known as ID-7 becomes victim to the same virus, causing all hell to break loose. It’s a great treatise on corporate greed and the things that lurk inside our head, and it’s the perfect way to kick off a Labor Day weekend. When Derek (Stephen Yeun), a relatively nice guy (or at least one who hasn’t lost all sense of morality) becomes the victim of dirty corporate tactics, he gets fired. This is fortuitously timed with the release of the virus inside the building, and because he is locked inside with all of his newfound enemies, this gives him the opportunity to show them all what he really thinks of them. Unfortunately, all of the dickbags he works with are also exposed to the virus, allowing people who are already terrible human beings to indulge their every horrible impulse. Trapped inside the building with him is Melanie (an always-excellent Samara Weaving), a homeowner who is about to be kicked out of her house by Derek’s corporation, who owns the loan on her property. While it is Derek who holds the meeting informing Melanie that she’s going to be homeless soon, it is something that he clearly feels bad about and something he encourages her to rectify once all hell breaks loose. He decides to help her along the way, telling her that if she helps him get to the penthouse to face off against the people who fired him, she will have free reign against the executive who is repossessing her house. The audience, who I’m sure damn near all have been wronged by some corporate entity at some point in their life, are happy to come along for the ride. As the action in Mayhem ratchets up to 11, we’re treated to an array of ultra-violence of which Alex from A Clockwork Orange would be proud.
I will 100% watch any movie where Samara Weaving handles a nail gun.
The dialogue is a tad dry and a bit too smarmy for its own good, but it manages to get the necessary points across and allow for the star power of Weaving and Yeun to shine appropriately. Most people who have worked in a corporate structure, or frankly had any important business dealings with one, have experienced what Derek and Melanie are going through. Corporations are evil and it’s always fun to see them get their comeuppance. As the building comes under quarantine, we get to live our darkest workplace fantasies vicariously through our two main characters as they rampage through the corporate jungle. After the first thirty minutes of the movie, the audience is treated to a non-stop cartoonish waterfall of bloodshed, with characters using every lethal weapon that one can find laying around the office. It's difficult to imagine that, if all constraints were removed, people would actually do the things that they do in this film. The mayhem (see what I did there?) truly does elevate to unbelievable levels, to the point that it’s almost laughable. Director Joe Lynch, however, is not known for his restraint, and the film is all the better for it. The violent may be too extreme for some, but they wouldn’t be tuning into this film anyway, so fuck em. While the film definitely has shortcomings, the aforementioned dialogue deficits are by far the largest, and even that does not take you out of the plot or make the movie any less enjoyable. Lynch’s cameo as the firm’s IT guy is enjoyable, and the film is paced at breakneck speed so that even an ADD-riddled fool like myself is never bored. By the time Derek makes his way to the penthouse, we’re pretty sure what’s coming up next and we’re more than happy to see what he’s got in store for his bosses.
The corporate ladder is really more of an elevator.
Who this movie is for: People who like their horror with an action/comedy bent; Fans of fast-moving horror; Dave Matthews Band apologists Bottom line: While not really a horror movie, Joe Lynch makes an intensely enjoyable film with a dark, comedic style. It’s super fun, and an excellent film for anyone who enjoys the brand of horror that Samara Weaving is making her name on. Stephen Yeun is excellent as well, and the film is generally well acted by all involved. The writing is not great (though the dialogue with Yeun and Weaving is always entertaining), but you’re not here for the writing anyway. Check out the film on Shudder if you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth your time and will have you wanting to check out more of Lynch’s work. A fun film for anyone who likes a bit of ultra-violence.