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Have you ever wanted to kills your boss? What about shove a stapler through the eye socket of that one really annoying co-worker? If you find yourself nodding along to these questions and if you’ve ever had these homicidal impulses in the office, then one growing genre of film may appeal to you. Dubbed by Director Joe Lynch as “worksploitation,” the genre involves acts of violence and anarchy the normally rigid structure of the office environment. Essentially, worksploitation is the wage-slave’s revenge fantasy genre. We’ve assembled a little list of horror-driven worksploitation films you should watch.

American Psycho (2000)

Mary Harron’s satirical-horror classic, adapted from the novel by Bret Easton Ellis follows a wealthy investment executive, Patrick Bateman, as he takes out his frustrations on the world with murder. This movie is widely known and is probably most viewers’ introduction to the worksploitation genre.

The films stars Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, Willem Dafoe, and Jared Leto.

Severance (2006)

Christopher Smith’s Severance is a British-German comedy horror film about a company team-building retreat in the wooded Hungarian mountains that leads to a mysterious figure hunting them down one by one.

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The film stars Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny, and Toby Stephens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQ4e1558QY0

Office (2015)

In this South Korean slasher-thriller directed by Won-Chan Hong, Detective
Jong-hoon must figure out why a mild-mannered office worker named
Kim Byong-gook has murdered his entire family and is now hunting down his co-workers.

This office horror film stars Go Ah-sung and Park Sung-woong.

Bloodsucking Bastards (2015)

Brian James O’Connell’s Bloodsucking Bastards is about a sales manager named Evan and his slacker co-worker, Tim, who make a shocking discovery about their boss – it turns out the blood sucking bastard is actually a vampire! Even worse, employees are being converted to the undead, one at a time.

The film stars Fran Kranz, Joey Kern, Emma Fitzpatrick, and Pedro Pascal.

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The Belko Experiment (2016)

This 2016 horror-thriller, directed by Greg McLean and written by James Gunn, is about a twisted social experiment in an office building. Eighty Belko Industries employees are locked in a corporate office in Bogot谩, Colombia, and ordered to participate in a violent battle royale. Of course, it goes about as well as you’d expect.

The film stars John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, and Michael Rooker. For fans of James Gunn’s cadre of players, his brother, Sean, is also in the movie.

Mayhem (2017)

The Steven Yeun-lead action horror comedy is a Shudder exclusive. The film focuses on unjustly-fired corporate lawyer Derek Cho who, on his way out the door, takes the opportunity of a aggression-building virus and the building going under lock-down to get a little revenge. The film was directed by Joe Lynch.

Yeun is joined in this film by Samara Weaving, Steven Brand, Caroline Chikezie, and Dallas Roberts. Additionally, Mayhem is also a minor The Walking Dead reunion for alumns Yeun and Roberts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhTDq2t6UpM

The Night Watchmen (2017)

This horror-comedy film, directed by Mitchell Altieri, follows three night watchmen at a Baltimore newspaper warehouse who, aided by a rookie, must deal with hordes of bloodthirsty vampires after a mistaken delivery.

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Oh, and these vampires also happen to be clowns.

The film stars James Remar, Ken Arnold, Dan DeLuca, and Kevin Jiggetts.

Office Uprising (2018)

This Lin Oeding directed 2018 film is an horror-action-comedy that had it’s streaming premiere on Sony Crackle. A slacker named Desmond must survive with fellow coworkers after other employees drink an experimental military energy drink that causes them to fly in psychopathic rages. Of course, this happens in probably the worst place imaginable for this sort of thing… a top of the line weapons factory.

Office Uprising stars Brenton Thwaites, Jane Levy, Karan Soni, and Zachary Levi.

Have you seen any of these films? Please let us know what you thought! You can read our review of one of these movies, Mayhem, right here at Haunted MTL.

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David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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Movies n TV

The Beach House, a Film Review

The Beach House (2019) is a body horror film directed and written by Jeffrey A. Brown starring Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, and Jake Weber.

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The Beach House (2020) is a body horror film directed and written by Jeffrey A. Brown. This film stars Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber, and Maryann Nagel. As of this review, this film is only available on Shudder.

Desperate to rekindle their strained love, Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) escape to a beach getaway. They soon learn to find that family friends of Randall鈥檚 father, Mitch (Jake Weber), and Jane (Maryann Nagel), also had a similar idea. After getting used to each other, a mysterious fog engulfs the town. Unfortunately, they realize too late the danger they find themselves in.

A woman with her mouth agape. Behind her is a dark background. Next to her reads, "The Beach House." Below is a scenic beach with a mountain in the distance.
The Beach House Alternative Cover Art

What I Like

Body horror gets under my skin, and The Beach House certainly lives up to the standard. There鈥檚 something magical about creatures terraforming your body to their preferred environment, turning humans into nothing more than conscious prisoners in their own flesh. While I wouldn鈥檛 consider this film the most traumatic or unsettling example, it utilizes wonderfully grotesque scenes.

Aside from the body horror, the film drops a few Cosmic Horror鈥搊r Lovecraftian鈥搗ibes that go together perfectly. Another favored genre of mine, this combination ensures the odds are overwhelmingly against our human leads.

Beyond the grotesque, visuals might not overwhelm but certainly succeed in their goal. Several scenes provide an intentionally tranquil experience that contrasts with the grotesques and improves their effectiveness.

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In terms of performance, each actor hits their mark. While some roles require less effort, each contributes to the plot as intended. The standout performance goes to Liana Liberato鈥檚 Emily, who acts as co-lead. She simply has the most to work with and lives up to the part.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

As 鈥渂ody horror鈥 should indicate, this film will hit hard for the more squeamish viewer. While horror by nature has some amount of grotesque, body horror brings that grotesque to the next level. While I don鈥檛 particularly find The Beach House hitting harder than its competition, it certainly respects its chosen genre.

Woman looks shocked or horrified. Bushes or trees make up the background.
Liana Liberato as Emily

What I Dislike or Considerations

A few scenic montages may hit or miss depending on your interpretation. While I have my own theories, that speculation goes beyond the scope of this review. Many of these scenes overlap more philosophical conversations and musings that may annoy or add layers. This strategy seems a common practice in Cosmic Horror, which forces characters to rationalize the irrational.

It鈥檚 hard for me to understand how secretive or known this event is supposed to be in the film鈥檚 world. Individuals know something outside of the town, with evidence implying governmental knowledge. This information creates a contrivance鈥損erhaps, even a plot hole鈥揵ecause the characters had to reach this isolated town without any opposition.

One of the visuals didn鈥檛 exactly grab me. While I won鈥檛 go into too much detail, an effect looked too visually similar to a common animal that barely survives rain. It鈥檚 hard to be threatened by that. It also doesn鈥檛 exactly match up with some of the other visuals. Even the creatures that look similar to it still look different enough to provide a more alien assumption.

There are moments when the infected chase our main characters by crawling at them. While the context works, with injured characters helping to sell them, I can鈥檛 help but find these scenes amusing as opposed to frightening. Yes, it鈥檚 certainly visually different from the plethora of zombies out there, but it鈥檚 also less frightening than zombies that leisurely walk to their targets.

Final Thoughts

The Beach House combines cosmic and body horror to create an uncomfortable film that tests its characters. For those who enjoy these genres, it will certainly entertain you, but I doubt it will frighten you. I imagine the mood to watch it again might strike me, but I鈥檓 not entirely certain it will stand the test of time. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

If this movie suits your fancy and you want more, Honeymoon seems an appropriate recommendation.

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Movies n TV

Every Secret Thing, a Film Review

Every Secret Thing (2014) is a crime thriller directed by Amy J. Berg and written by Nicole Holofcener, based on Laura Lippman鈥檚 novel.

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Every Secret Thing (2014) is a crime thriller directed by Amy J. Berg and written by Nicole Holofcener. This R-rated film stars Diane Lane, Danielle Macdonald, Dakota Fanning, and Elizabeth Banks. Based on Laura Lippman鈥檚 novel of the same name, the film adaptation is accessible through MAX and DirecTV.

When a little girl goes missing, Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) spirals into an all too familiar tale. As pressure mounts, Alice Manning (Danielle Macdonald) and Ronnie Fuller (Dakota Fanning) become the leading suspects. The strained frenemies unravel under the attention and reminders of their shared past.

Laura Lippman stands out at the top of the cover, over a black background. Every Secret Thing appearing over a pool
Every Secret Thing Book Cover

What I Like

The film unravels in a non-chronological structure but makes it easy for the viewer to follow. It helps that the age difference clearly divides the younger actors, who change actors. One casting choice resembles their older counterpart, and the acting reflects a strong direction for their shared role.

Unreliable narration remains expertly communicated with scenes that change perspectives depending on whose perspective we view them from. This choice adds a reason to view the film twice, providing extra ambiguity for some of these events.

The camera gets up close and personal to an uncomfortable degree, which almost certainly presses the actors鈥 performances. This choice places the viewer in the character’s perspective and limits us from others’ perspectives to add extra credence to these biases.

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Every Secret Thing provides a spiraling mystery that unravels with several twists and turns. Assuming the novel provided the outline, this film executes these points and keeps a consistently engaging experience throughout the runtime.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

Child abuse and neglect remain the central plot points of Every Secret Thing. Little of this abuse appears in scenes, but there is no escaping the danger children are in throughout the film.

Self-harm and suicide are shown throughout the film (once in the case of suicide) through one specific character. It isn鈥檛 glorified or romanticized nor addressed with particular sensitivity. For those sensitive to these subjects, it might be triggering.

Racism, the assumed motive for the bi-racial victims, plays a small role in the film’s narrative. However, character motives remain more complex, but going further spoils some elements. This film decision does create the reality that bi-racial children are the victims of child neglect and abuse in the film with little additional context. It does invite uncomfortable speculation, but speculation it would be.

Sexual assault is another concern for viewers, specifically statutory rape. This issue seems particularly mismanaged, considering the survivor remains an antagonist. One can be both survivor of assault and an antagonist of a film without needing to discredit the assault. While little appears of this issue, and the manipulation angle can indicate a perspective shift, it鈥檚 hard to refute how the film wants to represent this attack.

Daughter resting on her mother's shoulder. Both are in the back of a car.
Diane Lane as Helen and Danielle Macdonald as Alice

What I Dislike

Loosely tied to the above point, one character seems mentally off and purposely so. This point doesn’t inherently create an issue, but there seems to be a choice to make this character a mastermind. Perhaps this is better addressed in the book, but the execution is far from perfect here.

A newspaper montage reveals essential information which feels oddly misplaced. Practically the entire setup for the film appears through this montage, which creates the necessity to read these headlines in the minimal time given.

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As a horror, nothing but the events are haunting. Children being abused or kidnapped always haunts, but the terror of this remains secondary to the mystery. While the mystery is nice, this film won鈥檛 particularly scare the seasoned horror fan.

Final Thoughts

Every Secret Thing unravels a mystery of opportunism, selfishness, and deception. While the movie won鈥檛 haunt the viewer, it certainly unravels a mystery that shocks them. The nuanced and deceptive characters add a layer of engagement that creates a unique experience, but I doubt this movie will linger in my mind.
2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Quid Pro Woe

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We鈥檝e now reached episode six of Tim Burton鈥檚 Wednesday. And after the last episode, this one did not disappoint.

We start with Wednesday attempting to contact Goody Addams. Last episode, if you鈥檒l recall, Morticia explained the difference between a psychic dove and a raven. Since Goody Addams was the last raven psychic in the family line, it鈥檚 got to be her that trains Wednesday.聽

But her seance is a failure, and Wednesday is interrupted by a magazine note shoved under the door. It says to meet someone at a crypt for answers. 

When she gets there, it turns out that her friends have put together a surprise birthday party for her. Before she can cut the cake, however, she has a vision.

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Jenna Ortega in Wednesday

Goody Addams tells her that she must find a specific gate. After some investigation, Wednesday discovers it鈥檚 the gate to the old Gates house. 

Wednesday goes to investigate, but she isn’t the only one. She is nearly discovered by Mayor Walker. He is also investigating the Gates family, even though they’re all reported to be dead. He leaves a message for Sheriff Galpin and is almost immediately run over by a car.

This incident is enough to get Wednesday鈥檚 town villages revoked. Though this seems like an empty punishment since the whole school is on lockdown. Someone burned Fire Will Rain on their front lawn. 

Wednesday isn’t one for believing the rules apply to her. She has it in her head that she’s meant to save Nevermore Academy, probably from whatever descendent of Crackstone who’s still around. So she has no problem lying to Enid and Tyler and convincing them to help her sneak off campus and explore the Gates house further.

This, of course, is an incredibly informative trip. The kids find a hidden altar to Crackstone, as well as the missing body parts from the monster’s victims. They also find evidence that someone’s been staying in the house. Someone who’s staying in what looks like a little girl’s room.

Before they can find anything more, the monster finds them. They barely escape, and go to the sheriff with what they find. 

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Of course, the house has been cleared out by the time Sheriff Galpin arrives. Furious that his son was almost killed, he tells Wednesday to stay away from him.

Because that always works, right?

Galpin isn鈥檛 the only one angry. Enid is fed up with the way Wednesday has been treating her. And so she leaves their room to bunk with someone else, leaving Wednesday alone. 

This episode was well done. The discoveries at the house were exciting, and I鈥檓 almost sure I know who鈥檚 behind the murders at this point. Overall, this was a good ramp-up to the season finale. 

Jenna Ortega in Wednesday.

Finally, this episode did something I was worried just wasn’t going to happen. And for that alone, it deserves praise.

Wednesday has been incredibly selfish and inconsiderate since the first episode. She’s been rude and demanding towards Thing. She’s ignored her friends’ needs and emotions while insisting they put themselves in danger for her investigation. She has respected no one’s boundaries, even while other people have at least tried to respect hers.

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And now, it鈥檚 finally come back to bite her. All of the people who have been doing their best to show her kindness and support are finally done with her bullshit.

Yes, this is a good thing! Characters are best when they’re allowed to learn and grow. When they don’t come to us flawless. When they mess up and learn from it. Especially for a show aimed at kids, this is essential.

If you鈥檇 asked me at the beginning of the season if this character was going to experience honest character growth, I鈥檇 have assured you it would never happen. Much to my surprise, it鈥檚 happening. I hope that Wednesday is going to come out of this a better person. With two episodes left in the season, there鈥檚 plenty of time for that.聽 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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