Do you work an office job? Do you hate your boss? Do you sometimes feel like flipping a table, slashing a colleague’s throat and intensely fornicating with that hot accountant from the 5th floor? Yes? No? Regardless of your answer, you’re still gonna ADORE “Mayhem”, written by Matias Caruso and directed by the insane Joe Lynch (Chillerama; Wrong Turn 2; Everly), which made its international premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.
Derek Cho (The Walking Dead’s “Glenn”; Steven Yeun) works his office job at a lawyer’s firm despite being miserable there. His day starts off by defending the secretary from an arrogant, intimidating douche bag, but then begins to tumble downhill as soon as his favorite mug has gone missing. That’s the least of his worries, you see, because today isn’t gonna be like every other day. A grave mistake from another department in a client’s file has been redirected to him, making everyone believe that he is responsible for this unforgivable error in which he is not at all guilty for. To avoid losing face and money, the firm decides to make him pack his office belongings and fire him on the spot. Enraged, yet helpless, he is escorted towards the building’s exit by security, unaware of what the future holds for him. However, fate has it that he won’t be leaving the building just yet. A virus has infiltrated the building. IV-7, to be more precise. This virus, a visual symptom being one eye blotched in blood, had been diagnosed as eliminating all human inhibitions and reverting an individual to the core of primal instincts and impulsions. In fact, this virus is so powerful and mind-warping, that the government has deemed anyone and everyone irresponsible of ANY action performed under the influence of this virus. Anything. Now, of course, a team of S.W.A.T. officers and scientists have put the building under quarantine while they send a neutralizing agent through the air ducts in order to reverse the effects of the virus. This process, however, will take 8 hours to achieve completion. Derek decides to team up with Melanie Cross (Samara Weaving; “Ash Vs. Evil Dead;” “Monster Trucks”), a furious lawyer from another firm who had a simple, yet important, request regarding a foreclosure notice for a client of hers rejected by Derek and his firm. Together, they are determined to slice, clobber, and annihilate everyone on their path up the crazed floors of the building to the head honchos of the firm to exact rightful revenge before the eight hours of “non-responsibility” expire. Mayhem is upon us.
Where to begin on this unbelievable piece of work? First off, a fantastic scenario by Matias Caruso. I have never worked in an office (I’m a physical education teacher, so far from that), but I could feel the sheer frustration of the office life of how manipulative some colleagues can be to direct blame upon someone else when this injustice could have been avoided, or the exasperation from the delegation of responsibility when a firing has to occur. As it is stated in the film: “No one raindrop wants to think it caused the flood.” Then, after the slumping feeling of defeat from this horrendous office life, the adrenaline-pumped excitement of the potential of what is to come when discovering that NOBODY is responsible for anything done when infected by the virus? Oh boy. I tip my hat to you, Mr. Caruso.
As for Joe Lynch’s majestic directing, there is so much to be in awe for. The entertaining way that Steven Yeun can sometimes narrate the story; the ingenious montage, all within an elevator, demonstrating Derek Cho’s change of attitude throughout his career at the office; the intense close-ups and remarkable camera angles; the bone-cracking, muscle-tearing, in-your-face and in-your-ears sound effects upon impact from insanely violent blows; and not to mention that he even inserted himself into the movie in the tiny role of a clever and comical IT guy. The sometimes techno-retro, sometimes heavy metal soundtrack, intertwined with rapid, violent mini-scenes of characters’ inner impulses truly engrave the film’s title as the only title possible for this film. What an incredible job Joe Lynch managed to achieve.
Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving have purely believable chemistry onscreen and are immensely talented in bringing forth a vast range of emotions. Depressed, overly sarcastic, discouraged, ecstatic, enraged; they can do it all. They truly are the centerpiece of the movie and you cannot help but root for them. They are tremendously well surrounded, with Steven Brand (The Scorpion King; The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer; Echoes; Teen Wolf) as the incredibly heartless boss of the firm, Caroline Chikezie (Aeon Flux; Eragon; Everly) as the “Siren”, the exceedingly manipulative employee, Dallas Roberts (My Friend Dahmer; The Grey; Dallas Buyer’s Club) as the emotionless “Reaper” whose job consists of executing the firings from those upstairs, and Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave; Intruders) as the exceptionally harsh bitch of an associate to the head boss. A sensational cast, molded for this feature film.
You MUST watch “Mayhem” when it is available. Mr. Lynch claimed that the film should get a theatrical release in the Fall of 2017 and should be available on Shudder.com in February 2018. He did not, unfortunately, mention anything about a DVD or Blu-Ray release, but I will definitely obtain a copy for myself when it does. This violent masterpiece has little to no flaws, is terrifically entertaining, for various reasons, from beginning to end, and is definitely the best film of the 2017 edition of Fantasia. I reward it with a perfect 5 stars out of 5.