There’s a point in everyone’s adult life when you’re at a corporate job and you come to the realization that you’re being used, overworked, and disrespected by the executives profiting off your hard work. There’s a part of your brain that blocks the desire to just lose all inhibition and wreak havoc in your office, destroying everything in and around your cubicle. Instead of following through with office space devastation, you spend your days fantasizing about the day when you show your disdain for boss either with verbally offensive language or if you really want to go there, pure unadulterated violence. Now imagine if you could do this in real life without consequence and blame it on a virus. This is exactly what MAYHEM is.
Directed by Joe Lynch and written by Matias Caruso, Mayhem is set in the world of corporate law and follows Derek Cho (Steven Yeun) who has seen better days. He is being set up as a person responsible for mishandling an account and ends up being fired and humiliated by the bigwigs. And to top it all off, someone stole his favorite coffee mug.
As he is being escorted out the door with his belongings, he finds out that his office building has been quarantined due to an outbreak of a virus that prevents the infected from controlling their inhibitions. The virus spreads quickly and we see people lose control of their emotions. Employees are pummeling each other, having sex on cubicle desks, stabbing each other, screaming, crying — their office building has essentially become bedlam.
This becomes the perfect opportunity for Derek, who is also infected, to fight his way to the top of the building to “have a word” with the bosses, who are sitting pretty at the special access-only top floor. With the help of irate, nail gun toting client Melanie (Samara Weaving), he literally fights his way through herds of crazies so that he can make it to the top floor to take care of business with his corrupt group of executives.
A genre mash-up of 28 Days Later, The Raid, and Office Space, Mayhem is a non-stop gnarly ride of tortuous blood-soaked fights driven by rage — and it is unbelievably awesome. Yeun takes his zombie fighting training to another level to lay waste on infected office drones — and he is a beast while doing so. The Walking Dead alum continues to shift the perception of the Asian American actor as an unbelievable badass. Right there with him is Weaving, who is vicious enough to sledgehammer someone’s skull and cracks wise about how much she hates Dave Matthews.
Lynch has created a wildly entertaining genre mashup that is what the SXSW film festival is about. It’s fun, original, and so bizarre that you can’t help but celebrate it’s over-the-top brutality. Along with The Belko Experiment, it could very well be the foundation of a new film genre. With a committed cast and memorable moments of blood-gushing terror, Mayhem lives up to its name by being a gloriously violent tale of workplace revolt…and a twisted fantasy for many.
Not yet rated
Running time:86 minutes
Dino watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
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Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer
SXSW runs from March 10 through 19. For more of the Tracking Board’s coverage of SXSW, click here.