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‘Mayhem’ (review)

Produced by Parisa Caviani, Mehrdad Elie,
Buddy Enright, Lawrence Mattis, Matt Smith,
Sean Sorensen,
Andjelija Vlaisavljevic
Written by Matias Caruso
Directed by Joe Lynch
Starring Steven Yeun, Samara Weaving,
Steven Brand, Caroline Chikezie,
Kerry Fox, Dallas Roberts


Energetic, amusing, pitch-black comedy/horror film from director Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2, Everly) bears a similarity to Greg McLean’s The Belko Experiment but differs greatly in tone.

In this kill-all-your-coworkers-and-employers scenario, it’s a virus that is causing folks to act upon their impulses, effectively erasing any ingrained filter. (Shades of the unjustly forgotten Impulse from 1984).

Ever feel like stabbing the dude in the next cubicle?

This virus can make it happen. And thanks to the machinations of a major law firm, you can escape jail time: the virus made me do it.

This very law firm is the setting for Mayhem; in the midst of a typical, cut-throat business day, there is an outbreak among the employees of the virus. Much, well, mayhem ensues.

A lot of said mayhem is very funny, and director Lynch should be commended for the many background details, both visual and aural, of the craziness that results from the outbreak. I laughed out loud when an unseen employee can be heard screaming, “F—k you! F—k you! You’re cool….F—k you!!”

Steven Yuen, overdoing it just a touch (but hey, pretty much everyone does), is Derek, an overworked, miserable lawyer who has no time for his sister, let alone a girlfriend or family. His workaholic, ambitious ways will be put to the test once the virus cuts loose (and allows him to do the same).

He’s matched by Melanie (an appealing Samara Weaving), who pretty much despises him on sight, and the feeling is mutual. Still, circumstances force them to work together to survive and achieve their individual goals in the process.

Weaving attacks her role with gusto and reminded me of an early 90s era Jeanne Tripplehorn. She and Yuen seem to be having fun, killing with abandon and spewing an inordinate amount of profanity.

Perhaps too much profanity and, really, too much of everything. Mayhem is almost wall-to-wall violence and swearing (I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard this much cussing in a movie – Scarface, maybe..?) which unfortunately dilutes their effectiveness. The film would have benefitted from its foot not being so hard on the gas.

Still, if it’s cartoony, over-the-top violence you’re looking for, Mayhem certainly delivers. And despite its flaws, it should play very well with anyone who’s ever held a crappy job wherein fantasizing about ways to kill one’s employer eats up a sizable portion of the work day.


Mayhem is playing in limited release and
is available on Digital HD and On Demand



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