A gory action-horror-comedy that rages against the machine and picks up every style point along the way
“Mayhem” is a frantic, blood-splattered, rock ‘n’ roll action-horror-comedy that plays like a killer cross between “Crank” and “Office Space.”
Metro Detroit native Steven Yuen (Glenn on “The Walking Dead”) stars as Derek, a drone at a soulless corporate law office. When a virus breaks out that turns its infected into rage-filled maniacs acting out “The Purge,” Derek teams up with Melanie (Samara Weaving, “SMILF”), a homeowner whose property has been foreclosed by the firm, to take down the bosses and give them a taste of their own medicine. Or to just make them choke on their own blood.
Madman director Joe Lynch (“Wrong Turn 2”) is equal parts Edgar Wright and Joseph Kahn, and he surfs on a tsunami of style. He lays “Mayhem” out like a video game — Derek and Melanie have to climb to the top level of the building, floor by floor, facing mini-bosses along the way — and sets it in a cartoon reality where everything is played for laughs and cool points.
If it didn’t work, Lynch’s approach would be grating. But “Mayhem” hits the bull’s-eye time and again, from its hysterical performances (especially Dallas Roberts and Caroline Chikezie as mid-managers known as the Reaper and the Siren, respectively) to its music cues (expert uses of Faith No More and Dave Matthews Band) to its general pop savvy.
“Mayhem” is madness, and it taps into an undercurrent of rage that permeates today’s top-down society, where the rich get richer and the rest of us fight for scraps.
Rated R for bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Running time: 88 minutes