What do you get when you cross a manic Monday at the office and a virus that causes people to lose all inhibitions be they violent, sexual, or otherwise? You get Joe Lynch’s 2017 horror-action-comedy Mayhem and one of the strongest exclusive offerings on Shudder.
Mayhem follows Derek Cho, a corporate lawyer on his worst day at work ever, during an outbreak of the ID-7 or “Red Eye” virus. This virus causes the infected to engage in just the sort of things civil society frowns. All those things that make for great horror films. Derek finds himself, infected, locked in the building, and looking for revenge against the top-floor for his unjust firing. Along the way, Derek is joined by Melanie, a client with her own agenda against Towers and Smythe Consulting. The film already caused quite a stir when it premiered on Shudder, breaking existing streaming records. However, for those who haven’t seen it, Mayhem is an incredibly satisfying revenge film.
One of the best things about the film are the characters and performances. Leading the charge is The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun, starring as Derek. Yeun has shined on screen since his days as Glen on The Walking Dead, but Mayhem is a perfect film to establish his chops as the lead of a project. Yeun’s Derek is charming, funny, nerdy, and most importantly, a convincing action lead. Samara Weaving of The Babysitter gives Melanie a fiery punk energy that relishes in the chaos of the locked down office. Melanie’s arc is also the most emotionally relevant of the film, and Weaving absolutely sells it. Weaving and Yeun play well off of each other and with any luck they will continue to do so in future films.
But what about the bad guys of Mayhem?
Revenge films tend to be only as strong as their villains, however, and Mayhem does not disappoint. The office features several fantastic “bosses” that lend the film a video-game feel. The three major antagonists are absolutely magnetic. Dallas Robert’s “Lester ‘The Reaper’ McGill” is the most fascinating among them, particularly given the dispassion of the character. Caroline Chikezie imbues “Kara ‘The Siren’ Powell” with that energy of the worst boss you have ever had. Lastly, Steven Brand is a joy to watch as “John ‘The Boss’ Towers.” His 1980s corporate-packaging unraveling on the top floor as Derek climes the tower is a joy to behold.
Verdict on Mayhem?
Americans love a great tower movie, don’t they? Great tower films include Dredd, High-Rise, the legendary Die Hard and Mayhem should definitely be listed among them. The plot isn’t revolutionary, as these films are about break downs instead of building to something, but that’s not the joy of Mayhem. Joe Lynch’s direction is solid and stylish giving the chaos of the office building an almost primal appeal. The myriad of horrific indulgences that occur in the background alone are great to watch. Seeing the worst chaos at the office is a hallmark of a great worksploitation film, a genre that proves that any office can be improved with blood all over cubicle walls.
Overall, Mayhem is a Shudder exclusive that is worth subscribing for. If you enjoyed this review, please check out our reviews for other horror films.