Brooklyn Horror Film Festival Review: ‘Mayhem’

Mayhem poster

Mayhem | Joe Lynch | November 10th, 2017

Mayhem is a wonderful and messed-up blend of horror comedy. Like 2009’s ZombielandJoe Lynch’s Mayhem is just the right combination of brutal violence and hilarious circumstances. Mayhem stars The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun as a corporate lawyer named Derek. During the opening sequence, Derek explains via voice-over that a mysterious virus has slowly broken out in random areas of the world. The ID7 virus causes extreme reactions of violence, laughter, depression, sexual urges and downright insanity. Derek chronicles his rise in his company. He started out as a low-level employee, but soon gained notoriety by representing a man who was accused of murder while infected with this new virus. The man was cured and cleared of all charges, which created a legal loophole in the United States legal system.

Mayhem still - Steven Yeun as Derek

Of course, one day, an infected person brings the ID7 virus into Derek’s workplace and all hell breaks loose. Before this occurs, however, Derek is thrown under the bus by his bosses and is promptly fired as a scapegoat to protect the firm from a grave error that was not his fault. Derek begins to panic about his future, but not before he meets Melanie (Samara Weaving), a woman who has come to Derek’s workplace in order to save her home from being taken by the bank. She pleads with Derek, but there’s nothing he can do.

Unbeknownst to Melanie, she is infected with the ID7 virus. Very bloodshot eyes are the first sign of the infection, and Melanie’s eyes are bright red. All of a sudden, the CDC shows up at outside the office building. Sensors in the building have gone off, alerting the presence of the ID7 virus. The entire building is quarantined, and so begins Derek’s quest to not only get his job back, but completely destroy anyone or anything that gets in his way.

Mayhem still - Samara Weaving & Steven Yeun

Once Derek and the rest of the office is infected with the virus, Mayhem turns into one of the funniest and most enjoyably crazy movies of the year. The virus turns co-worker against co-worker. Some turn to murdering one another while others have sex in the background. There are many quick sight gags in Mayhem that add to the film’s insanity. Since no one in the country can be charged with murder while under the influence of the virus, Derek hatches up a plan to get to the board members on the 8th floor using any means necessary. Derek makes an alliance with Melanie. If she helps him get his job back, he’ll force the board to give Melanie her house back. Armed with a nail gun, hatchet, and knives, the two of them attempt to gain access to the 8th floor.

Mayhem still - Steven Yeun mid-fight

Mayhem does a great job of setting up its antagonists. The scummy CEO, his secretary, and even the head of HR all turn into monsters for Derek to dispose of. Of course, there’s a romantic subplot between Derek and Melanie, but Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving have such great chemistry, so the romance isn’t distracting. It’s sweet, if anything. The action scenes come quick and frenzied here. Once the board members hear that Derek is on the warpath, they put a bounty on his head, and leave it to their other employees to try and take Derek out. Watching people in business casual attire fight each other to the death is something I didn’t know I wanted.

Mayhem still - The workforce

The tone of the film never falters. There’s a lot of violence, sure, but it’s masked by clever dialogue and exaggerated office politics. Anyone who has worked as a drone for corporate America will get a kick out of Mayhem. It’s like Die Hard, Dawn of the Dead, and Office Space had a crazed baby. The film moves at a brisk pace, setting up each villain as a unique obstacle to outsmart and out-duel. While the virus turns the mean board members even more evil (with the help of copious amounts of cocaine), it turns Derek and Melanie into vengeance-seeking lovers who will stop at nothing to get theirs.  The audience at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival ate this one up. It made me laugh out loud on many occasions. Mayhem is a real treat for people who fantasize about their post-it notes and paperweights being soaked with the blood of their enemies … or annoying co-workers.

Rating: 8.0/10

Mayhem hits US theaters November 10th and will be streaming on Shudder in early 2018.