Please be aware this discussion contains spoilers.
To say that I have been looking forward to screening The Belko Experiment, directed by Greg McClean and written by James Gunn, is an understatement. The well-designed trailer for the film positioned it as another entry in the increasingly growing oeuvre of “life boat ethics”[i] horror films in which survival is intimately tied to the choices one makes when thrown into a moral quandary. These films, in which ethics and choice collide, are somewhat unique to the genre in that the physical violence is secondary to the psychological warfare being waged. Consider, for example, the first Saw film in which the majority of the narrative tension comes not from the actual acts being perpetrated but by the struggle of the unwilling game participant to make a choice. Early trailers for The Belko Experiment, which showed the film to be about a group of employees who are held hostage by an unseen mastermind and forced to decide who in the group should die so that others could survive, gave every indication that this film would follow the conventions set out by previous “life boat ethics” films. Boy, was I wrong.
What I got instead was a wholly original postmodern horror tale that takes the conventions of a morality fable and repackages them to be less about psychology and more about shock and awe. In this case, spectacle is not part of the narrative. It is the narrative. Read more