When the tagline of this film described it as “It’s the Office, meets American Psycho” I had to admit I was a no brainer over whether or not I would select this film from the que to review that month. After all, I had long been a fan of Brett Easton Ellis’s most infamous book ten years before it became a film, and as for The Office, again I had to admit that I was a fan of the British version starring Ricky Gervais long before it even touched down onto our shores/into our NBC Thursday night lineup. Aside from making me seem like a big media snob, what does this preamble accomplish, you might be asking? It simply lets you know that this could have been the most ultimate film I have ever seen in my life, had they been able to fully complete the admittedly, near impossible task of marrying these two fictional comedy/horror worlds onscreen. And while the finished product isn’t as good as I hoped (is it ever??) this one does a fairly decent job of finding some common ground between the two worlds of corporate America gone horribly wrong using the one common element that both franchises share (A dark surreal sense of capitalist wackiness) and the results are admittedly workable, if one will pardon the pun.
When the film starts after a 13 minute credit sequence we meet the employees of a nameless, faceless business. As always every office environment has it’s peculiar characters and this one is no exception. We have Kim the office slut, Beth the office drunk and Bryan the office jerk. There is the also dating couple John and Penny. By the directors own daring admission he admitted that he sought to fill up this movie with as many characters archetypes from the American version of the office that he could. No problem there. Very textbook. As Every sitcom knows, maximum wackos equal enough plot possibilities to at least entertain the most jaded reviewer for a 70 minute running time (at least in theory).
But one character added to this mix that had no American analogue was none other than Brandi Babcock, a type A perfectionist, obsessive compulsive ball buster of a woman who starts firing people left and right for the slightest infraction, such as putting croutons in her salad. Now while the workplace murder is hardly an American phenomenon, we do happen to be the country that coined the term “Going postal” to explain the occasional phenomenon of a disgruntled worker murdering all his co-workers in a spree killing. Even my own personal mild mannered day job is for a company whose policy it is to ALWAYS fire people on Fridays because studies have shown that that statistically, studies have shown, people have a lot lesser chance of coming to work with an assault rifle and killing everyone if they have a weekend to deal with their firing. So it seems credible that it isn’t long before Brandi haphazardly gives everyone the axe, the bodies start piling up from an unknown hall killer with a twenty pound sledgehammer who is ready to deal some crushing blows of their own. At a scant 7o minute running time of main feature, this thing runs down with some good laughs, some zany gambits and a the usual corporate efficiency from a movie like this where you just know that it can only end when most of the cast is “terminated”.
This film had some things going for it. The tiny, budget claustrophobic set ALWAYS evident in titles like this had never seemed more completely appropriate. The fact that you never really knew what the companies name was nor what the employees actually sold over the phone only showed how illogical, conformist and impersonal the business world has become, a common sentiment in EVERY Dilbert cartoon. Finally, the portrayal of Elina Madison as Brandi Babcock; a pissed off specimen of estrogen authoritarian angst unchained was very compelling and more than a little hot. My gripe with the film was that there really was no big reveal at the end. When the killer’s identity was made known to the audience, it was hardly surprising. Furthermore while I hate comparing one film to another, they started it so let me say that Patrick Bateman from American Psycho had the widest morality character arc of any human monster on film Since Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. By day he was, rich and handsome with impeccable manners and by night he was a bloody, increasingly savage psychopath in every sense of the word (even if only in his fantasies). The killer in this film has no moral character arc whatsoever and when it was done I felt a tremendous sense of duh. Of course, when I watched the special features (as I always do) I learned the probable reason why. The film Corporate Cutthroat Massacre was originally inspired from a short film called “Late Shift” (included) where the final scene of the movie is the killer exposing a supply closet full of previously unknown victims. This is a powerful ending for MOST any 18 minute film, but in the full version of this movie, this final surprise is muted somewhat and meaningless because we have not only met each of these victims but seen them attacked firsthand by the hallway hammer man leaving us feeling that nothing was worse than we guessed all along- always a bad final act for a horror flick.
Still, with the economy being what it is and the world of business being viewed synonymously as a subculture of greed, evil and soulless avarice, Corporate Cutthroat massacre is strangely relevant to anyone who ever had a boss they ever secretly wanted to murder, or worse yet feared being somehow destroyed by. At 70 minutes I wanted more, at least until I saw the short feature and realized that it was a story that can be told better in fifteen minutes. It’s not as funny as the office, nor anywhere near as dark as American Psycho leaving this somewhat of an absurd, laughable bloody mess, something I suspect the director aspired to from frame one.
Grab yourself a copy here!