I’m not sure if it was because Mayhem stars Steven Yeun (Glenn from the Walking Dead), or because of the bass-heavy soundtrack and quick cuts that almost have a sound to them, or because the theatre showed a George Romero anti-texting ad just before the movie started. One way or another, Mayhem almost immediately reminded me of the Resident Evil franchise. That’s probably NOT the franchise that director Joe Lynch was hoping to emulate, and may be taken as an insult, but I don’t mean it as one. It’s a great match for the movie’s frenetic, claustrophobic, satirical look at an office building full of potential murderers and murder victims.
Let me explain. In Mayhem’s universe, there is an airborne disease that removes people’s inhibitions, and if you’re infected then your eye turns red. From that short synopsis I hope it’s clear that if you are at all eye-phobic (like Jay is) then you should stay far, far away from this one. There is a lot of eye-rubbing going on in this office building and surprisingly, people are not freaked out with it, given that everyone in the building clearly knows all about this disease. But they are not troubled enough to leave the building before it gets quarantined and some actually have plans to use the disease for their benefit, as a “legal loophole” of sorts. FOR MURDER!
[lawyer rant] As a lawyer, I have to point out the precedent the schemers intend to rely on isn’t actually a loophole but rather an obviously wrong decision that would be overturned on appeal and/or disregarded in future cases. And since the office building in which the movie takes place is a law firm, they really should know better because this lawyer knows that those relying on the “loophole” are all going to prison for a long, long time. [/lawyer rant]
There’s plenty of blood and gore galore in Mayhem but the slick, tongue-in-cheek presentation makes the gore palatable and entertaining, to the point you will wonder whether you’ve finally been 100% desensitized to violence. I mean, it’s almost certain I was desensitized long ago but I’m telling myself my tolerance for Mayhem’s gore was a result of not being invested in the characters. Even Yeun’s character wasn’t compelling to me because he was kind of a sleazeball. But then again he was a movie lawyer, so that’s to be expected.
I’m a little miffed that all movie lawyers are sleazeballs. Mainly because you never see movie doctors being dishonest. At worst they are addicts but they get to be honest addicts so they’re still one up on movie lawyers. Maybe it’s finally time for me to write that screenplay about the dishonest doctor who was tricking his patients but then gets caught by the handsome honest lawyer and just when you think the doctor is going to use a loophole to get away with it, the lawyer totally shuts him down, he really makes the doctor look like an idiot for even trying, and in winning the case he also wins the love of his beautiful co-counsel and everyone lives happily ever after (other than the evil doctor who gets exactly what he deserves). It’s going to have something for everyone, except for doctors who don’t deserve anything as I think we’ve already established.
By the way, Mayhem is a generic but entertaining thriller that looks far more polished than it has any right to on an indie budget. If you can relate to an office revenge tale, or just hate lawyers, then keep an eye out for this one.