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Film / The Belko Experiment

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"All employees... lend me your full attention."

A 2016 horror-thriller film written and produced by James Gunn, and directed by Wolf Creek's Greg McLean, The Belko Experiment premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was released on March 17, 2017.

Belko Industries is a non-profit organization that facilitates American companies in South America. Eighty Americans work at the Belko offices in Bogota, Colombia. It's a normal, corporate job.

Then one day, the loudspeaker gives a simple order: "Kill three of your co-workers, or we will kill six others."


The Belko Experiment contain examples of:

  • Actual Pacifist: Raziya, the Muslim woman, witnessing a bunch of Beliko employees including Vince stomp one of Barry's gunmen to death (in self-defense no less) can only scream for them to stop.
  • All for Nothing: Lampshaded by Mike. He's the only character who points out that if this is real, there's no way they will ever let anyone live to tell about it.
  • All There in the Script: The names for the majority of the characters.
  • Apologetic Attacker: A completely heartbreaking one from Vince to Raziya right before he shoots her.
  • Ax-Crazy: Subverted. Nobody is killing out of sadistic pleasure, just self-preservation.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: The only way to survive is to kill others. Everyone admits it is evil and wrong, but some care more about survival.
  • Big Bad: Barry is the one who decides to start hunting people and only grows more unstable as the movie progresses.
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  • Big Brother Is Watching You: The entire building is under total observation, so anyone attempting escape or trying to remove the bombs in their heads will not get past them.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Barry refers to the Voice as "our new god".
  • Closed Circle: The building is sealed, and any attempt to escape is met by armed guards.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Several characters drop a few here and there, but Marty takes the cake. Every other sentence out of his mouth contained the f-word even before things got real.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: 80 characters and 79 need to die within 88 minutes of movie. Deaths are very common.
  • Cooldown Hug: Barry doles out a couple as the situation escalates. The first one is rather sweet. The second...not as much.
    • A woman Raven gets scared, picks up a fork to protect herself and goes into a fighting stance. Barry calmly walks over to her and gives her much needed hug while gently taking the fork from her hand.
  • Cool Old Guy: Bud.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Lots. Heads exploding by implanted bombs, face smashed with an axe, hacked to death with cleavers, crushed by an elevator...
  • The Cynic: Leandra, which ironically puts her worldview more in common to her boss Barry's realism than her friend Mike's idealism.
  • Deadly Game: The Belko workers are ordered to kill their co-workers, and threatened with death should they refuse. The announcer outright refers to it as a "game".
  • Decoy Protagonist: More like "Decoy Final Girl". Dany Wilkins was genre savvy enough to survive the majority of the game by hiding and avoiding Barry and his crew. The movie builds it up that she might survive the game but made the mistake of getting on an elevator, which led to her getting shot by Barry.
  • Dead Star Walking: Michael Rooker doesn't even last a half hour, in addition to being the first employee killed by another employee.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Dany's supervisor, an older blond lady, all-business demeanor comes across a tad harsh. Later on, that same woman is seen helping an injured young Keith walk down a flight of stairs.
  • Downer Ending: Mike survives but many of his friends and co-workers including his girlfriend are dead and the experiment isn't over as he and many others who survived are once again forced to compete in another round.
  • The Dragon: Wendell is by far the most Ax-Crazy of Barry's group. He kills Evan simply for throwing keys to the ground and shows absolutely no emotion or remorse with killing after that.
  • Elevator Failure: Barry gets trapped in an elevator when Roberto is crushed by it, getting it stuck in place.
  • Elder Abuse: The very first group Barry chooses to execute is anyone over the age of 60.
  • Entitled Bastard: The Voice and his cronies have Mike brought before them after he "wins" and arrogantly expect his cooperation when they start grilling him about the psychological effect of what he just experienced. He refuses to play along and kills them all.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Nobody approved of Wendell stabbing Evan for cardinal sin of throwing the armory keys down the stairs. Terry is downright horrified and even Barry is shown to be visibly annoyed.
  • For Science!: The ending explains that it's all just a sick sociology experiment.
  • Face Death with Dignity: During the execution line up in the lobby, while others are screaming, crying, begging and damning Barry and friends to hell, one woman just simply takes a deep breath and closes her eyes before she's shot.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Several either due to panic, desperation, or just raw pragmatism. Some quicker than others.
  • Foreshadowing: During Mike's fight with Barry, they knock over an introduction voice over Powerpoint of Belko Industries, which mentions its forty offices. When Mike ends up becoming the final survivor, the ending reveals that indeed, there are forty survivors of the experiment.
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: As the time limit gets closer, some characters begin to realize killing the others is their best chance to live.
  • Genre Savvy: Mike immediately realizes that the scenario is so illegal that there is no way they will ever let any of them go, even if they "win". He's right. He is also the only one that noticed something off about the security personnel.
  • Gentle Giant: Vince Agostino is friendly guy and accommodating boss who takes time to teach new hire Dany the ropes. On more than one occasion used his great strength to move someone to safety; like a wheelchair bound lady. Unfortunately, by the final stage he completely flips his gourd.
  • Gorn: Plenty. There are multiple gruesome deaths with gory bodies on full display.
  • Hero of Another Story: The ending shows 39 other people that won their own "game."
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: All of the monitoring equipment and scientists are hidden in a huge, dilapidated aircraft hangar that is on Belko property for some reason that apparently nobody has ever bothered to look in.
  • I Have a Family: Invoked multiple times by multiple people. Even the most murderous of the group call out and set aside those with children under 18 and spare them from execution. Until game 3, anyway.
  • Improvised Weapon: Lots. A wrench, a hammer, a tape dispenser, a rolling pin, a fork, a podium, the blade of a paper cutter, molotovs, kitchen knives, cleavers...
  • Instant Death Bullet: Multiple scenes with a handgun being fired into a crowd and people just fall over instantly dead.
  • Kill 'Em All: Only one person (Mike) survives. Subverted when it's revealed that he's one of many who survived the experiment.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Lonny accidentally kills Bud in a fit of panic when he just trying get Lonny to calm down. Then Lonny gets accidentally killed by Dany when he desperately tries to force her to keep quiet about whole mess.
  • Lottery of Doom: Multiple people consider this the morally correct way to let it play out. Don't kill anyone and just wait to see who dies.
  • Made of Indestructium: The shields that seal the doors and windows don't even heat up, let alone melt, after prolonged use of an acetylene torch.
  • Mega-Corp: Belko Industries, a non-profit company. With body armored security guards and a fully stocked armory. Oh, and the mandatory murder. It's indicated the entire company and its many offices are just a front for the titular experiment.
  • Mr. Fixit: Bud. When the AC is disabled, he is absolutely confident he can fix it no matter what "they" did to it.
  • The Needs of the Many: Characters make this argument several times. Assuming the rules are followed, killing 30 means 50 survive. Otherwise only 20 survive. Mike counters that, even setting aside the morality of complying with this mandate, there's no way in hell that killing 30 people will actually save anyone, because there's no way anyone pulling this kind of "social experiment" would let anyone live to tell of it. He's right.
  • No Name Given: A huge majority of the employees are never named and simply serve as fodder.
  • No Social Skills: Subverted for Wendell. His creepiness toward Leandra not withstanding, Wendell is shown to get along rather well with the rest of his coworkers at the beginning of the film.
  • Older Sidekick: Chet to Marty. He seems to just go along with whatever crazy nonsense Marty comes up with.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: The final shot of the film is a camera zooming out on a panel of dozens of screens, showing other "winners".
  • Only Sane Man: Mike, out of all the Belko employees he is most rational. When the "experiment" is first announced, Mike immediately attempts get everyone to calmly evacuate building. The majority thinks it's just some kind of prank, which Mike admits it likely is but still insist on leaving just be on the safe side.
  • Pull the Thread: Lampshaded. Multiple characters notice and mention that the security guards were replaced with armed soldiers, but nobody actually seems to care.
  • Read the Fine Print: Marty makes a comment about Belko being able to do anything they want because of the absurd contracts they were required to sign to begin working there, and asks if anyone else actually read it before signing. Nobody did.
  • Retired Badass: Barry and Wendell. When discussing whether or not they should start killing people, someone makes mention that "some of us aren't trained Special Forces killers" and gestures at them both.
  • The Reveal: Mike survives out of all his office workers after he kills the heads. But the screen at the end shows that FORTY other people did the experiment too, a majority of them covered in blood and holding weapons. And then the voice over mentions that "Round 2" will begin now.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The sole survivor manages to kill all the guards and scientists running the experiment as revenge for what they did.
  • Sadistic Choice: Kill 30 of your coworkers yourself, or we kill 60.
  • Sanity Slippage: Barry, who goes from the most collective to flat out doing an execution in the lobby and then just goes on a Kill 'Em All when Belko orders that anybody with a high kill count will survive.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: The Belko building is in an extremely rural part of Colombia, and all exits are sealed off.
  • Sequel Hook: The film ends with the reveal that Belko is a huge corporation with many, many locations... all of which were performing the same experiment. A voice over states that "round two" has commenced, implying that all of the survivors are going to be placed in another experiment, not let free as promised.
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: Employees with guns employ this method when they lose control.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Dany, the new hire on her first day, is built up throughout the film as a possible Final Girl, as she's survived various situations and has had several scenes devoted to her sub-arc, only to be killed nonchalantly by Barry as soon her elevator door opens.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Someone is watching what's going on in Belko...
  • Spotting the Thread: The first indication that something is off is the security has been replaced by heavily armed guards and all of the Colombian employees are being sent home for the day.
  • Spy Cam: Used liberally. Multiple are hidden in every room of the Belko building.
  • The Stoner: Marty. Heck, his debut scene is him smoking a joint in the bathroom. Once the situation takes turn for the worse, however, he exhibits behavior akin to getting high with mushrooms instead of marijuana.
  • Stupid Evil: The ending borders on stupidest evil and crosses with Too Dumb to Live. Mike is the sole survivor, and is brought before the Entitled Bastards responsible for the murders of his coworkers and told to do a questionnaire on the experience? It doesn't end well for them. They're easily disarmed and dispatched. Of course, they're just the decoys for the real masterminds. But still exceptionally stupid.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Mike goes the pacifist route initially, but at the end systematically kills those running the titular experiment.
  • Tap on the Head: Subverted. Lonny taps Bud with a wrench to get him away. It caves in his skull and kills him.
  • There Can Be Only One: "Game" three is that only the one with the most kills gets to leave.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Patty when she stabs Antonio to save Mike. A deleted scene expands upon it further.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In a sense. The poster? It depicts the final kill before the final survivor is released.
  • Villains Want Mercy: The Voice has the nerve to beg for undeserved mercy when Mike holds him at gunpoint. Mike gives him what he deserves.
  • Violence is the Only Option: Characters attempt to dig the explosives out of their heads, make phone calls, blowtorch their way out, and hang banners asking for help. Eventually the only option is to kill each other.
  • Water Source Tampering: Marty, unable to comprehend that the game is actually happening, believing that they are all hallucinating due to "something" in the water.
  • What You Are in the Dark: One could argue this is the whole point of the experiment.
    • Leandra was among the most cynical of the group, yet when she had a pleading Terry (whom earlier came within a hairbreadth of shooting Mike AND her) on the ground and every right to split his head open, Leandra shows Terry mercy.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Women are killed just as indiscriminately and brutally as the men.
  • Your Head A-Splode: All Belko employees had a tracking chip implanted in the back of their necks, ostensibly to prevent kidnapping. They also explode when conditions aren't met.