In a world under sieged from a highly contagious virus, known as the ID-7 virus, that blocks the uninhibited and explosive impulses, workaholic Derek Choe attempts to make a footprint at his ruthless, white collar firm, but lands on the receiving end of a frame job that results in a pink slip and being escorted out of the building. Before being able to walk through the exit by security, an ID-7 invasion as quarantined the office and symptoms are seeping to the surface. All hell breaks loose amongst co-workers, exacerbating the already highly caffeinated, extremely strung out, intensely coked up, and amoral aggressive behaviors of a volatile workplace environment, and an infected Choe aims to reach the top floor to violently express to the firm’s board on why they should reconsider his termination, but a drug-fueled, and also infected, boss strives to make that endeavor challenging with the assistance of his lower tiered, corporate suits.
“Mayhem” is a HR nightmare! The Joy Lynch 2017 directed action-horror film is “The Firm” meets “The Raid: Redemption!” Luckily for the viewers, “Mayhem” is a hardcore insight into unlocking all of your deepest, darkest inhibitions to the tun of explicitly telling off your boss with every four letter expletive in the book, giving your rotten colleague a firm piece of your mind, or just knocking everyone’s teeth down their smug throat. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie. Lynch (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End) runs with the first time feature film from screenwriter, Matias Caruso, who designs a virus, called the ID-7, that removes or ceases to function what defines us as human, from compassion to sympathy, in order to frankenstein a demented rendition of Donkey Kong and Caruso’s characters basically all have singular mode – asshole – but that subversive level stems from an infection induced state and the characters, deep down, maintain a slither of their original selves in an extremely dark comedic sense.
On the coattails of his character’s brutal demise on AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” Steven Yeun remains in an dimension plagued by a different kind of viral infection. Instead of blowing the brains out of walkers, Yeun brilliantly and entertainingly fills the ambitious workaholic shoes of account manager Derek Choe who literally battles his way to the top after being canned by his unscrupulous consulting firm and when the ID-7 overwhelms each and every employee. Choe is a far cry from Glenn on “The Walking Dead,” a pure hearted character with a good moral compass. Yeun’s character’s moral compass is skewed without doubt and double skewed with introduced by the virus. Choe forms an unlikely pact with a desperately disgruntled borrower Melanie Cross fighting against the firm, and the firm’s bank, looming foreclosure and the sassy, blond ass kicker, embraced by “The Babysitter’s” Samara Weaving, can chew gum and kick tail all at the same time. The pair are pitted against the some of the office’s most ruthless suits, such as a sociopathic HR enforcer known as The Reaper (played by “The Walking Dead” vet in Dallas Roberts), a manipulative snake charmer Cara Powell (Caroline Chikezie of “Æon Flux”) and at the top is none of than the big boss played by “Hellraiser: Revelations'” Steven Brand. Not only does “Mayhem” have colorful, well-scribed anchoring characters, but the supporting parts are just as well-quick-e-quipped too with Kerry Fox, Claire Dellamar, André Eriksen, and Mark Frost (“Faust”).
“Mayhem” relishes in the ferocity of that of a Mark Neveldine “Crank” franchise, but lacks a certain coherency untuned to seamlessly sustain the story to the end. Moments of purely poor editing don’t convey the full message intended, leaving much desired when considering the hero and heroine’s plight through the firm’s ruthless hierarchy to the top. These moments don’t make or break the story and are minuscule in portion size but are large enough to thwart going unnoticed. Another annoyance of how the story is told is the off screen violence. With a feature entitled “Mayhem,” by very definition states, “violent or damage disorder, chaos,” one would imagine that any and all violence would be in full display, showcased proudly and exhibited without ambivalence, and the beginning starts off energetic enough with an explosive scene of a conference room brawl involving the attendees in a all out melee, a half naked couple sexing right on the conference table, and ending the scene with a murderous gashing of one’s carotid artery. Narrating why these berserkers are killing and humping each other is Steven Yeun’s Derek Choe, setting up the ID-7 as the uninhibited virus. The violence that pursues goes into a hot or cold state where the latter involves off-screen violence, especially between Chikezie and Clarie Dellamar’s characters in a fight to the death between boss and assistant, but in a heated exchanges that had more girth in the dialogue, their actual bout screens over to Choe and Cross’ blank stare expressions and the determination of who bests who goes into a big question mark status.
RLJ Entertainment releases “Mayhem” onto various formats include a not rated DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming platforms. I am unable to comment or critique on the audio and video qualities of the film as I was provided a streaming link that didn’t include bonus material; instead, I’ll comment on how Lynch and the rest of filmmakers did a remarkable job constructing an ambiguous building structure along with the help of the two Stateside based production companies Royal Viking Entertainment and Circle of Confusion. Though the film was shot in Bulgaria, the location could have been right in downtown of your nearest city and that fairs in “Mayhem’s” success to establish anywhere as a victim to the virus or a workplace go array in the world. The next time you want to take a heavy duty Swingling stapler to you’re supervisor’s noggin for assigning to many TPS reports to you, check out “Mayhem” to instill that visceral courage and audacity to do so all the while being entertained by utter, unadulterated violence and violent thoughts and actions that usually spur underneath the breath of a common office environment.