In a sick and twisted social exam, a large group of American workers are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogotá, Colombia, and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed. The Belko Experiment (review) is a deep-dark, charred-black comedy and is really the perfect combination of screenwriter James Gunn’s and director Greg McLean’s skill sets. Add to that a kick-ass cast including Michael Rooker, Adria Arjona, and John Gallagher, Jr., and you’re in for a helluva good time.
We caught up with McLean to pick his brain about what’s on the upcoming Blu-ray release of The Belko Experiment.
Dread Central: There was quite a lot of talk about the movie amongst genre fans when it came out. Did you follow the conversations?
Greg McLean: I did. It was interesting because when it was coming out, I was reading commentary. You can watch people’s live reactions on Twitter which is hilarious, [and this] is something that is a relatively new thing. As people are watching it you can read Twitter feeds, what people are saying and reacting to it. It was interesting seeing the younger people who saw the film; you could tell a lot of the younger audiences were people who were from, say, sixteen to twenty, [and they] had not seen a film like this before. On the one hand it was really blowing them away with the big idea, ‘wow, what if we’re all part of some game, what if the government really doesn’t care,’ all these basic entry-level conspiracy ideas. And also people hadn’t seen a film with such extreme violence, just unbridled insanity. So the most entertaining thing for me was watching kids going ‘oh my god, what did I just watch? Either that was the biggest piece of shit ever, or that was the greatest movie I’ve ever seen in my life.’ Certain people were so thrilled by the experience, saying, ‘I’ve just seen something I’ve never seen before,’ and that to me was very satisfying.
DC: What can fans expect to see on the DVD and Blu-ray?
GM: We have a quite extensive behind-the-scenes documentary called Rules of the Game: Secrets Behind The Belko Experiment, and that features interviews with myself, James Gunn, some of the cast and crew. Plus a lot of the material was shot on set, so you’re behind the scenes and seeing the challenges of bringing this movie to life, the performance challenges and that kind of stuff. It’s a really detailed look at behind the scenes of the movie. We also have these incredible Claymation animations, that were done in before the release of the movie, in a kind of comic, ultra-violent Belko kind of fashion. We did a bunch of those ahead of the U.S. release, and so those will be on the DVD as well. And then we have a stills gallery, stills from behind the scenes of the film, and so on.
DC: No commentary?
GM: No. But what we did do was, [add] a bunch of deleted scenes through the film. For one reason or another, those didn’t make the cut; there was one scene shot that was very interesting because the way that Leandra dies in the main version of the film, there was an earlier version of the script whereby she died in a different way, where her head actually blew up. We shot that scene, and it’s kind of interesting because I think it was our very last scene we shot for the movie, an alternative scene, so we shot it, we cut it, and we tried it. It had some fans in the group, but ultimately James and Peter [Safran, producer] and I were on the side of the one we had shot originally was still the right way to go. I believe that will be on the DVD and it’s something fun to compare. And there’s the two endings that could have gone down.
DC: I think The Belko Experiment is just as good, if not better, for home viewing…
GM: Look, I would say today, so many movies people will find on home entertainment or VOD streaming [because it’s a hassle to see them on the big screen]. I’ve seen most movies that way. It’s because everyone’s busy. I’ll go out and see the big movies like, I’ll race out and see Wonder Woman, I’ll go and see The Mummy or one of the big movies that comes out, but I find that I catch most movies on Amazon or different streaming services. So it’s really cool, I love catching movies like that because comfortably in your home environment, you can kind of see things without huge expectations. So I think this is really good, I’m kind of excited to see how the audience responds to these platforms because it is a new environment, and I’m sure it will shock a few people.
DC: How would you respond if you yourself were thrown into The Belko Experiment?
GM: I would probably be like Dany (Melonie Diaz). In reality I’d like to be Mike Milch (Gallagher Jr.) and basically fight for everyone’s freedom. I’d have a little of the Tony Goldwyn character in me, too. I might be kind of saying ‘Ok, here’s what we’re going to do,’ because as the director I’d like to try and take control and say ‘Let’s do this, let’s go over here, this is how we’re going to survive this.’ But in reality, I’d probably be hiding in the nearest elevator shaft and getting shot in the face. That might be my fate.
Written and produced by James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy), the film follows a building of non-profit employees who become trapped within its walls and must fight to the death until there is one person left standing amidst the carnage.
Here are the special features included on the Blu-ray/DVD releases:
- Rules of the Game: The Secrets Behind The Belko Experiment
- Lee Hardcastle’s Survival Tips
- Deleted Scenes
When office workers arrive for work at Belko Industries’ isolated high-rise campus outside Bogotá, Colombia, the morning starts much like any other. Mike Pelk (John Gallagher, Jr.) smokes weed in the bathroom and flirts with his beautiful officemate Leandra (Adria Arjona) while new employee Dany Wilkins (Melonie Diaz) settles in for her first day on the job.
Everything changes when an anonymous voice comes through the intercom speakers ordering employees to kill two of their colleagues within 30 minutes. Many of the 80 employees assume the order is a sick joke, even when steel-plated doors snap shut sealing off all windows and exits. When they fail to comply before the half hour is up, the heads of four randomly chosen office workers explode. Panic reaches a fever pitch when the disembodied voice issues his next command: 30 people must be killed within the next two hours, or 60 people will die.
Belko COO Barry Norris (Tony Goldwyn), a former Special Forces operative, commandeers a vault filled with guns, assembles an ad-hoc death squad, and begins executing elderly and childless employees. In the ensuing melee, ordinary office workers including stoner Marty (Sean Gunn), nerdy Keith (Josh Brener), creepy Wendell (John C. McGinley), and maintenance guy Bud (Michael Rooker) reveal their true colors.