Written by J. Weagle
I’m going to start off by saying that Mayhem is a fun ass movie. Directed by Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2, Everly) this movie, from the open moments never lets up with its over the top aggressive nature, and if anything lives up to the title. I’ll admit that I’m not overly familiar with Lynch’s previous work, but as a listener of the Movie Crypt podcast, he has always been someone who has fascinated me in the horror space, and the one previous film of his I have seen (Everly) gave me Walter Hill vibes which in some weird ways carry over to this film.
Mayhem is not an overly complicated film, and at the end of the day it plays out as a revenge flick with some virus outbreak elements tossed in here and there. The open moments introduce us to Derek (played by Steven Yeun of Walking Dead fame) who is down on his luck and fired from his job unfairly. A virus that causes individuals to act out their most animalistic impulses spreads through the office just as he is being escorted out by security, and the entire building goes into lock down for the next eight hours. From here Derek must fight his way to the top of the building with the help of his blonde sidekick Melanie (Samara Weaving – The Babysitter, Ash vs Evil Dead), surviving his violent co-workers so that he can ultimately get revenge on his shitty boss and clear his name.
The plot is simple and not really the reason you’re here, however, it is at least helped by the fact that both Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving give solid performances, and really make us like these characters. They are at times over the top and some of the line delivery comes off as cheesy but it all makes for some pretty decent laughs throughout. Some of the other character however I’m a little less forgiving to, such as the John Towers (The Boss) whose energy felt flat next to the others, and left me not really caring whether he lives or dies which is bad considering he’s a virus infected, coke addicted son of a bitch.
As I’ve mentioned, Joe Lynch is a fascinating director to me, in that he never really seems to catch a break but who obviously is filled with loads of potential to deliver a great horror film. Though I do not think this film is as good as his previous effort Everly (which I strongly believe is underrated), Mayhem shows that he has a knack for filling his horror with not only loads of blood, but some pretty solid comedy as well. His style moves the film forward at a steady pace, only for a brief moment stopping to catch its breath before the insanity starts again until the end of its hour and twenty seven minute run time.
More than anything Mayhem is a fun popcorn movie that mixes elements of comedy, horror and action into a revenge flick that feels like it is constantly in fast forward. Perhaps my one knock to the film is that it doesn’t do much with the virus outbreak portion, and instead that somewhat takes a backseat to everything else causing me to forget at times that it is the reason behind all the mayhem. The logic of how the virus affects people seems like it lacks any context, completely turning some people into sadistic monsters with no clear thought, while others seem rather calm. That may seem like a petty comment considering just how ridiculous and over the top the film is, but l just feel like it was nothing more then an excuse to have our hero murder his boss, and live out his power fantasy and could have someone played more intimately with the plot. With that being said, Mayhem is an enjoyable flick, and highly recommended to those who like a little comedy mixed with their blood and guts.