Joe Lynch is a filmmaker not prone to delivering just everyday horror and genre outings, and “Mayhem” is proof of that. This is a man who should be delivering his off beat storytelling and directorial style to big budget features like James Gunn, but that is by no means a slight on the director. “Mayhem” is a demented dark satire and horror film filled with gore, dark humor, and a biting commentary on the doldrums of the work place and world of corporate back stabbing. Director Joe Lynch takes “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Warning Sign” and drops it in to a blender creating one of the most ruthless balls to the wall meshing of genres I’ve seen in a while. While Lynch is very liberal with the use of gore and splatter, there’s a damn good reasoning for all of what goes down.
“Mayhem” is violent and disturbing but it’s never pointless, as it centers on an environment that is a powder keg ready to explode. Lynch throws in the dynamite and dances in the rain of body parts and blood. Steven Yeun is superb as Derek Cho, a young law student who works his way up the corporate ladder enduring the ruthless corporate world. Now in a place of power, he hopes to come to an even bigger position, but he’s thrown under the bus when his corporation botches a deal with their clients. Unjustly fired and anxious to plead his case, and reach the heads of the board. Cho lives in a world where a mysterious virus has become a part of society, prompting the government to scatter and attack the virus around the country.
Said virus is prone to flourish in public places, and the virus seeps in to the blood causing the infected to act out their inner urges and desires. They can become incredibly aggressive and violent, as well as amorous and paranoid, and now Derek’s building and all the workers have been quarantined for eight hours. Infected, and teeming with violent rage, Derek and former client Melanie have a bone to pick with the heads of the corporation and enact a campaign of brutality that’s simultaneously impressive and extraordinary. The role of Derek Cho is obviously a demanding one and Yeun has proven himself to be a stellar actor, and here is no different. The idea of being infected prompts Yeun to always be at an emotional high, screaming and viciously growling and Yeun is fantastic, consistently stealing every single scene he’s in.
Even when standing in an elevator, Yeun conveys so much rage, and uncontrollable blood lust that he’s absolutely terrifying. Samara Weaving also gives yet another fantastic performance as someone who has to team with Derek to literally save her financial welfare, and the pair garner a stellar chemistry that make them fun to watch. They’re not heroes, so much as underdogs trying to scrape their way to the top, and they do so with ironically a bunch of power tools that they wield mercilessly. Lynch tosses in many more ironic elements, including the virtual rise to the top involving an elitist elevator system, and the antagonist John Towers (Steve Brand is memorable) whose weapon of choice is a golf club.
“Mayhem” is a darkly demented and violent statement about the cut throat world of the office eco system, and how easily society collapses when control and illusion of civilization is destroyed. There are some banner moments that Lynch has a ball staging, including an office siege, the climactic battle that literally manifests in to a class war, and a big office throw down. “Mayhem” is Joe Lynch is at his most insane and it’s an often outstanding mix of horror, dark comedy, and action that will stand alongside other dark character studies like “Office Space,” and “Fight Club.”
In theaters and available On Demand/Digital HD November 10th.