Sometimes a film’s title really sums it up and this is most definitely the case with Joe Lynch’s Mayhem. Its amazing opening features the voice over of Derek Cho (Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun) explaining to the audience the workings of the ID-7 virus, or the Red Eye virus as its more commonly, known which destroys all human inhibitions making them violent, lusty, emotion driven animals reveling in their basic instincts.
A lawyer by trade it was his inventiveness that allowed an infected guy to get away with murder prompting a change in the laws when it came to Red Eye outbreaks which although rare could strike at any time.
Having been promoted through his resourcefulness many moon ago Derek finds himself having the worst day ever when a malicious Machiavellian co-worker frames him for a costly mistake and gets him fired. Desperately pleading for his job to the board of directors lead by the terrible and terrifying John ‘The Boss’ Towers (Steven Brand from the Teen Wolf TV show) he finds himself with his desk in a box, unemployed and facing the front door.
However Derek can’t leave and nor can anyone else because the entire office building is infected by ID-7, surrounded by police and quarantined by the CDC. As Red Eye takes over and people start to fight, fuck and go frantic all around him and Derek has an insane idea to head back to the top flour and get his revenge on everyone who wronged him.
Packed full of fantastic fight scenes and brutal battles Mayhem is wonderfully directed by Lynch who revels in the chaos and confusion creating a sick, slick stylized flick that horror fans and action fans alike will love.
Added to all this is a brilliantly simple story by first time feature writer Matias Caruso that finally puts a twist on the infection genre which sadly seems to have gotten as mundane and moribund as the zombie genre recently.
The script sets up the situation perfectly and allows the audience the ultimate wicked wish fulfilment of literally obliterating their boring office and destroying their most despised work colleagues all without feeling any guilt at all.
Underneath this carnage is an interesting examination of office politics, our twisted law system and a massive insight into morality and the work life balance we all deal with day to day.
Like the sensational Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet, Mayhem almost makes the infection a positive thing as it allows Derek to stand up to the wrongs around him all be it covered in the blood of his co-workers and armed to the teeth with tools.
Things are obviously more complicated and in many ways the film shows not only the work place war all around him but also the battle for Derek’s soul which he seems to have sold to the company long ago.
With as much social commentary as sick comedy Mayhem really works well and this is linked to the excellent performances primarily from Steven Yeun but also his co-star Samara Weaving who plays Melanie Cross a woman with as much of a grudge against Derek’s company as he has. Both have great fun portraying characters without inhibitions but remain likable throughout something which is hard to pull off when you spend most of the movie torturing and slaying people.
With extreme gore and excruciating action Mayhem is ultra-violent and ultra-stylish speeding along at break neck speed and blending Office Space, The Purge and The Raid into a wonderful action horror that has a lot to say and a lot to show you.