Mayhem is a 2017 action horror film about a virus that spreads through an office complex causing white collar workers to act out their worst impulses.
The zombie movie has been slow to evolve, aside from a few slight tweaks to the undead themselves, mostly standard bedlam in the streets blood and gore that does little to innovate. Still, a few have come forward, sometimes avoiding the terminology altogether, calling such ‘infected’ or, as on TV, the walking dead, which given this film’s star, seems a solid seam. With Joe Lynch‘s latest Mayhem, there is a virus at the heart of the story, and surely it isn’t zombies in the traditional sense that terrorize, but has much in common with what we’ve seen before, even as it has plenty of fun in the chaos.
Derek Cho (Steven Yeun) is a young lawyer at the highly-profitable consulting firm of Towers & Smythe, having worked his way up the ranks quickly on the coattails of a loophole that let a murderer go free. How did that happen? Seems there is this new strain of virus called ID-7 on the loose, which, in a nutshell, severely limits one’s inhibitions causing extreme moral degradation. Basically, you lose your sh*t and go violently, murderously, mad. It swept around the world before containment, and in the bloody wake, was seen as giving the victim no alternatives, and thus, impunity. Now Derek has a new problem. After having a meeting with Melanie Cross (Samara Weaving) about a certain injustice, which leads to a massive betrayal for Derek, ID-7 finds its way into the office building, leaving its many hundreds of employees quarantined inside, all overcome by more limbic motivations. Looking to clear his name, and just survive, Derek, with Melanie’s help, both infected, must fight their way to the top and face off against the one orchestrating it all.
If you saw last year’s excellent High-Rise, you might already recognize a bit of what’s happening, though to be sure, the parallels are linear. While that film was loaded with social satire and class warfare, Mayhem is far less concerned with commentary than living up to its title. That doesn’t mean there’s any lack of right and wrong with very clearly defined villains and a well-lit path on which our heroes hurdle along, approaching it with a kind of ‘level-up’ mentality as they ascend the building, getting past various ‘bosses’ that are meant to stop their progression. It’s gruesome and ghastly as they gut, slice, beat and nailgun their way through equally-infected bodies, hyped up on the virus.
There’s nothing wrong I suppose with the brutality of it all, however the absence of a more vested meaning leaves it less impactful. It positions itself in a humorous light, going for a kind of cheeky black comedy most of the time, and is clearly influenced by the likes of Edgar Wright, but can’t quite strike with the same style even as a few moments hit the mark. It’s greatly lifted by Yeun who, as always, is incredibly charismatic and easily keeps things clicking with great energy. Weaving is also very good, clearly having a good time with the madness. Both are fun to watch.
Driven by an appropriately unnerving score by Steve Moore, Mayhem is not without its fun, and in fact, despite some missteps, is a demented bit of lunacy that certainly entertains. If anything, it serves as a platform to showcase just how ready Yeun is for bigger and better, a leading man with the chops to carry a film all his own.
Movie description: Mayhem is a 2017 action horror film about a virus that spreads through an office complex causing white collar workers to act out their worst impulses.
Director(s): Joe Lynch
Actor(s): Steven Yeun, Samara Weaving, Steven Brand
Genre: Thriller, Horror