The Mob’s Reel: ‘Mayhem’ Is a Clever, Unrestrained Horror-Comedy
The Mob’s Reel is a film column that features reviews and essays covering everything from the latest blockbusters to standout indies.
Mayhem is a gory crowd-pleaser featuring a charismatic lead performance by The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun. Director Joe Lynch and screenwriter Matias Caruso flip the bird to corporate politics in this unapologetically gruesome and wickedly funny indie, which was screened in Montreal last week for the 2017 Fantasia Film Festival.
When a corporate law office is infected by a virus that nullifies people’s impulse control, Derek Cho (Yeun) and Melanie Cross (Samara Weaving) fight for their lives — and for revenge — inside the quarantined building, having been screwed over by Derek’s ruthless, greedy boss.
Mayhem is gleefully violent, but never to the extent that it becomes arduous to sit through. You may wince or groan, but the film’s grisly imagery is made palatable by Lynch and Caruso’s irreverent sense of humor. People are shot in the head with nail guns and thrown down stairwells, but the film has a light enough step, tongue placed firmly in cheek even during the most brutal sequences.
Yeun is given the chance to showcase what a compelling leading man he can be, and Samara Weaving has a playful sense of mischief about her that’s a lot of fun to watch. They have sparkling chemistry as an unlikely duo fighting and killing their way to the boardroom, bloodying whatever tools they can find to do so, with Melanie making particularly crafty use of a power saw.
Mayhem is a solid, scrappy low-budget indie flick, and if the enthusiastic Fantasia audience is any indication, the film ought to prove popular among action/horror fans.