Samara Weaving is a young actress quickly on the rise to super stardom. She’s not just sexy but can manage to tuck away that sexiness in favor of portraying characters of depth and complexity. In “The Babysitter” she was this very hot Satanic beast, in “Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri,” she was an adorable pixy, and in “Mayhem” she’s a go getter officer drone forced in to a blood soaked battle.
While the other office horror movie “The Belko Experiment” was sadistic nonsense, “Mayhem” wears its intentions on its sleeve as pure satire with over the top violence and some great performances all around. It doesn’t hurt that some of its roots are mired in “The Walking Dead,” either. Steve Yeun is great as Derek Cho, an office executive who hopes to get promoted and revels in the fact that he’s spent much of his life stepping over other co-workers to get where he is.
After a botched deal involving his company, Derek becomes the unfortunate scape goat and is unceremoniously fired from his position. As he’s preparing to be forced out of the building, the office high rise is shut down and locked up by authorities on the outside. In this near future there’s been a spread of a mysterious chemical known as ID-7 which inspires the infected to gradually become ever more violent and aggressive, acting out their inner desires.
With Derek stuck in the building, he and his co-workers are on twenty four hour lockdown, and all hell breaks loose. With Derek embracing the infection he decides to use the opportunity to go up to the CEO offices and confront them, hoping to plead his case. But that proves difficult as he faces off against his co-workers, all of whom he’s more than ready to hack to pieces to prove his point. Yeun is in full force here, portraying a rather despicable character who is less a hero, and more just a ruthless sap who uses the chemical leak as a means of helping him reach the offices of his company’s executives.
Director Joe Lynch is no fan of subtly with “Mayhem,” as Derek literally has to fight his way to the top to get his voice heard. Yeun chews in to the character, screaming and hollering at every single opportunity and he seems to be having a great time with the character. “Mayhem” delivers in what it promises with a lot of gore, grue and splatter, and Yeun teamed with Weaving, makes for a delightfully despicable pairing of people that just want to make a point and nothing else.
In the process they just happen to get in to a battle royale with other officer workers involving power tools and office supplies. It’s almost like an X rated “Office Space.” Joe Lynch takes a weapon and puts it in a place where it’s nothing but a powder keg of repression and resentment. “Mayhem” is just the bit of catharsis for the working class schmuck and I predict many a future screenings of it alongside 1999’s “Office Space.”
On the DVD and Blu-Ray there’s “Creating Mayhem,” a twelve minute making of production with interviews, insight in to the plot and characters, and footage. The Blu-Ray features an audio commentary by director Joe Lynch, director of Photography Steve Gainer, Editor Josh Ethier, all of whom discuss the technical side of “Mayhem.” Finally there’s “The Collected Works of Derek Cho,” a fun two minute slideshow with artwork created by character Derek Cho.