Ever had that urge to slap the dude in the cubicle next to you? Maybe you have felt the need to launch your giant four-hole punch at your boss? Or maybe, just maybe, you have conspired with your colleagues to kick that smarmy office smart-arse down a flight of stairs (or three) and claim he slipped on a banana peel?
Well, this is the film for you. Evelyn director Joe Lynch’s Mayhem is the cure you didn’t even know you needed.
The ID-7 virus is an infection that breaks down the barrier in your brain between the parts of you that make you an upstanding citizen and the parts that make you want to throw your neighbours through their windows when they won’t stop yelling at each other. Now it has broken out in the high rising offices of Towers and Smythe Consulting.
Said office building is the nine-to-five home of Derek Cho (The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun), a lawyer working his way up the ladder who is about to get a sharp kick back down a few rungs. As unwilling as she may be, it’s also the temporary residence of Melanie Cross (The Babysitter’s Samara Weaving), a woman in desperate need of help from the building filled with lawyers on her mortgage problems.
When the CDC quarantines the building and releases an anti-virus into the ventilation system, the pair unwittingly find themselves teamed up against a building full of people with absolutely no violent or sexual inhibitions; and to survive, they will need to make it through the next eight hours. With a ticking clock, they must climb the floors of the tower to try and solve their problems with the executives on the top floor.
Opening with some razor sharp narration from Yeun, Mayhem sets up the world we are going to spend the next 90 minutes in beautifully – from the premise of an inhibition-dropping virus through to how anyone afflicted isn’t responsible for their actions. Within minutes, the blood drenched introduction lets you know what you have let yourself in for and besides a brief let up in, well, mayhem for some character development and scene setting, there is absolutely no let up. But don’t let the simplicity of its premise fool you: Mayhem has plenty to say and it’s going to make sure you’re listening.
It doesn’t take long for the action to hit full speed as Derek and his partner in crime start fighting their way up the floors of the tower block as a literal army of the world’s worst disgruntled employees comes at them with anything they can find in their desk drawers. “Luckily” for our heroes of the day, the monsters on the top floor tried to have them quietly removed from their lives and left them armed to the teeth and angry enough to turn anything into a lethal weapon. Screwdrivers? Angle grinders? You name it: it’s going to be used to make a mess of those corporate walls and there’s no way you won’t cheer for it to happen more. Such is the pure joy of this movie as one act of pure lunacy is instantly outdone by the next.
Steven Yeun makes a splendid turn as lawyer turned avenging angel Derek in what could easily have been a simple case of stunt casting to play off fans’ love for his The Waking Dead tenure. You instantly feel for the man and his predicament and once he lets loose on the people he’s given his all to, you can’t help but pump your fist in excitement. This is a role that seamlessly goes between being a proxy for us viewers – letting us be him for a little while and doing what we’ve all wanted to do to our bosses from time-to-time – and then becoming a figurehead for us to get behind and root for. Yeun plays both roles perfectly.
In second billing, but in no way playing second fiddle, The Babysitter and Ash vs The Evil Dead alum Samara Weaving couldn’t have been better cast as our angry nothing-left-to-lose hero Melanie. Where Yeun was allowed to be us at work, Weaving has given us the opportunity to be the person that lets off all their anger at the heartless monsters that would kick you while you are down. For those moments your finances take a hit and another big bill hits, then your car breaks down and you need someone to blame, to yell at and possibly beat to death with a waste basket filled with old orange peel and sandwich wrappers. Enter Samara Weaving to do of that and more in our name.
British talent gets a fair shake with voice over actor Steven Brand and Torchwood and Everly actress Caroline Chikeze standing at the top of the tower waiting for our heroes to come get them. Their all-too-natural way of becoming heartless creatures out for themselves adds a real menace to the proceedings; and even when things get cartoonish in their execution they are a solid anchor for our protagonists’ rage.
There is little in the way of extras on this UK home video release. However, while Joe Lynch’s audio commentary and the 10 minute behind-the-scenes featurette might not give you any special insight into the creation of the film you have just watched – or are about to watch – they are very entertaining and worth the hour and a half you’ll spend with them.
At first glance, Lynch’s film seems like a daft idea wrapped up in an insane premise with a crazy director at the helm having been let off his leash. But scratch the surface just a little and you’ll find a scathing social satire that has, in the year since it first appeared on the festival scene, become even more relevant. Getting screwed over by your bosses, messed around by your bank, we’ve all been there and we’ve all wanted a little revenge. And here, with Mayhem, it’s just so sweet.
Mayhem is out on DVD today. Check out the promo clip below and leave your thoughts in the comments section.