Mayhem (2017) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

Mayhem (2017) is an action horror film with a comedic edge. The film reminded me a bit of The Belko Experiment (2016), which I thought was a failed attempt at a good idea. However, Mayhem doesn’t follow the plot of Belko, other than a group of people are locked in an office building and essentially killing each other. Instead, Joe Lynch, who is writer and director,  gives his characters motivation for their actions and a loophole to let them get away with it. It’s a dark tone, but there is a bit of humor and bigness brought to the film that makes it a little more enjoyable than Belko was.

Mayhem isn’t total chaos, but it has enough fun moments to make it entertaining.

Derek Cho (Steven Yeun) is a lawyer who has sacrificed a lot of his morals to climb the corporate ladder. When a co-worker called the Siren (Caroline Chikezie) sets him up to be fired, he is ready to snap. He lucks out when a virus that causes people to be unable to control their impulses infects the whole of the building, forcing the CDC to lock it down on quarantine, giving him the freedom to do whatever he wants to get his revenge.

The movie plays out very much like a video game. Derek gains his “powers” and is preemptively shoved into the basement by John ‘The Boss’ Towers (Steven Brand) and his goons. In order to confront The Boss, he has to collect two keycards to gain access to the penthouse. The keycards are held by various boss-type figures that he has to systematically take out.  It’s a predictable plot but offers a simple layout for the Mayhem to take place.

Derek finds himself paired up with a woman he’d earlier thrown out of the building who has a beef with the law firm. Melanie Cross (Samara Weaving) has an edge about her even before the virus kicks in, which makes her a deadly adversary for anyone standing in her way. The connection these two characters make and build on throughout the film is probably one of the highlights as the chemistry between the actors is solid. Both Yeun and Weaving are entertaining and manage to bring a comic edge to the horror they are dishing out to those who stand between them and justice.

Final thoughts…

Mayhem is a solid B-grade horror film that was absolutely worth renting. The film was engaging, and definitely puts a bit of the little guy standing up to the big guy story to work. There are some odd choices and some of the action is a bit erratic, but, overall, it’s an enjoyable watch. Mayhem earns the Decent Watch rating.

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