MAYHEM is a bonkers climb up the corporate ladder
Imagine If you had to make it from your desk to the office kitchen but every co-worker on the way was trying to kill you, and you have Mayhem, from Joe Lynch and Matias Caruso.
Derek Cho (Stephen Yeun) is having a bad day. Someone has stolen his favorite coffee cup, he’s been fired for something he didn’t do, and his building is under quarantine for a virus that reduces inhibitions to passing fancies. With nothing better to do, he decides to fight his way to The Nine, the sequestered board of directors on the upper levels, with the power to fire or save. If he can plead his case to them, specifically the boss, John Towers (Steven Brand), he can likely keep his job – but he has to fight hordes of co-workers just to survive. Standing between him and The Nine is The Siren (Caroline Chikezie) and she literally holds the key to his salvation. She’s also harboring a huge secret that could bring the company to its knees, but her loyalty to the boss is way more important than Derek’s integrity. The virus is insidious and everyone is infected with ID-7, the Red Eye Virus, including Derek and Melanie, a disgruntled client (Samara Weaving) with an ax of her own to grind. It’s corporate culture for the Survivor Set with literal backstabbing. Alliances are created and fall. With everyone’s deepest inhibitions unleashed.
Before you think this is simply a comedic version of The Belko Experiment (2017) with a dash of The Walking Dead (AMC), stop right there, because this bonkers horror comedy is much more. It’s office politics as usual if employees were allowed nail guns. Director Joe Lynch manages to skirt to fringes of torture porn and elevates Mayhem to more sass than sadism. The action scenes are choreographed without looking fake, and Stephen Yuen becomes the everyman action hero you secretly wish you were. No super pumped ex-cops here, these battles are fought in skirts and heels, dress shirts and loafers. This feels more action movie than horror comedy, and it makes the inconsistencies barely noticeable.
The comedy of Mayhem doesn’t lie in shambling zombies and dumb luck. This dialogue is smart, but not so inside lawyer-jokey than non-office folks miss the funny. Everything is relatable because what is office politics but a polite subdivision ruled by an evil HOA. It’s fast pace because it’s high-concept with a short shelf life, but for the 86-minutes it doesn’t let up. It’s completely worth either the VOD rental or even a Friday Night show (since THOR and IT are probably sold out, again).
Mayhem is Rated R for lots of blood, people getting punched in the face, fights with nail guns, chainsaws and photocopiers, lots of swears, background desktop sexytimes, and drugs.