The Belko Experiment and Awakening the Zodiac
I’ve watched a lot of horror movies this week – my work computer has been having some troubles streaming Netflix so I decided to try Tubi which has a pretty decent horror section and actually works on my horrific work internet. We also recently subscribed to a new movie network with our cable and it has a lot of new horror movies, so I’ve been spoiled for choices. My two favs of the week have been Awakening the Zodiac and The Belko Experiment so let’s talk about them!
The Zodiac killer is my absolute obsession. I’m fascinated by the whole thing and have seen pretty much all the documentaries, read all the books, and watched the movies. Last year Awakening the Zodiac was released, directed by Jonathan Wright, and the trailer had me completely hyped. A couple find a reel of film in an abandoned storage locker that seems to show the Zodiac killer and they begin to hunt him down.
I mean…come on…that sounds amazing. That’s like the dream. Discovering one clue that could blow the Zodiac case wide open. The actual story is a little more complex. The couple – Zoe, played by Leslie Bibb, and Mick, played by Shane West are living in a trailer park and dreaming of bigger things. Mick has fallen for the obsession with buying storage units to pawn off the inside. Unfortunately, they haven’t had much luck and when Mick spends the last of their money on a very expensive storage unit, Zoe is not thrilled. Harvey, played by Matt Craven, is the pawn shop owner who goes in on the deal with the couple and he’s the one that discovers the trove of old film reels. A few of the reels depict the Zodiac killer…killing. As if the Zodiac had filmed his own murders for keepsake. The three realize that there’s a massive reward out there for any info about the Zodiac, and decide to track down the killer themselves.
Most of this film is a mystery thriller with the trio of oddballs breaking into houses, libraries, and storage lockers to track down more clues. Harvey spends a lot of time trying to break the Zodiac’s famous code because in one of the videos he catches a few ne clues. In the final showdown is when it turns more into a horror movie with some violence and a cat and mouse type chase.
Leslie Bibb keeps this movie alive with her bubbly portrayal of Zoe. Her wannabe detective scenes are funny and she plays “dumb with a heart of gold” perfectly. Mick kind of drove me nuts, but that’s the character. Shane West played him well. Harvey was my favorite because he’s a bit of kindred spirit – I can totally see myself losing my goddamn mind trying to crack the Zodiac code because honestly, I’ve already tried.
While this isn’t a perfect film, and there’s so many plot holes, and logic failures, and knowing that realistically the Zodiac is probably around 94 years old if he's still alive, I still had a tone of fun watching it. You have to keep a degree of logic separation but without looking to hard it is really fun. I’d totally watch it again!
Next up was The Belko Experiment which I’ve wanted to watch for awhile now because it looked like Saw meets Office Space. It came out in 2016, directed by Greg Mclean, and has one hell of a cast. Belko is an American company located in Colombia and one day a voice comes over the intercom letting the 80 employees locked inside know that their lives are on the line. At first, they’re told to kill two people and as the day goes on the demands get crazier and crazier. This is a super intense, gory, thrill ride of a film. I had a tone of fun watching it! I don't want to share too much about the story because I went in knowing nothing and had a great time watching it all unfold.
The cast is incredible – I love seeing Michael Rooker in anything and I only wish he was in this for longer because he's really an incredible actor. John Gallagher Jr. plays our lead and Tony Goodwin plays our…villain…I guess. He was so good though you guys, I was realllllly into Barry walking around in his CEO suit covered in blood being all psychopathic. My other favorite performances were Adria Arjona, Melonie Diaz, and Rusty Schwimmer.
The whole film is edge of your seat intense and it’s super gory and violent without feeling over the top. It’s an interesting take on this sort of weird subgenre of “want to play a game” type films. There’s some epic moments and some really intense moments and I got really quickly invested in all the characters. I would definitely watch it again and recommend it. As someone who spends my day job working in a giant office tower, I am very glad I wear comfy moccasins and clothes, and have a baseball bat under my desk because this movie has given me a new phobia. I WILL BE THE FINAL SURVIVVVVOORRRR....I also know the best places to hide.
I also liked very much how it ended and kind of left you with this crazy possibility for a franchise universe and so many unanswered questions without feeling unsatisfied.