It’s violent. It’s gory. It’s funny. It’s a zombie movie without the zombies, unless you consider it a cousin to 28 Days Later, and also consider that a zombie film.
The Red Eye Virus overtakes a high end corporate tower just as Derek Cho, played by The Walking Dead’s babyfaced killer Stephen Yeun, is fired from his job. The virus makes people lose all their inhibitions in the most dangerous ways, and the building is quarantined for eight hours so he can’t be put out. What better time is there to take bloody revenge on his ex-bosses?
Beginning with a noirish voice over by the everyman protagonist, the film slows and begins a slow burn descent into the danger zone, with hints of trouble coming and a good red herring. Once the mayhem begins there is a lot of violence done on people by the infected, with an impressive amount of gore for a comedy. Many inventive weapons of convenience are used, and social media has an impact on the story. The setting is constrained and somewhat exotic, and the social commentary is through the roof.
In other words, this movie is structured exactly like a classic zombie film, with a classic Hitchcockian clock. The pace suffers a couple of times as the film seems to need a moment to catch its breath, but then runs back into the fray with gleeful abandon. There were many zombie moments that felt like I’d seen them before, but the nods were subtle enough to not be annoying, like a close up of a blood filled mouth and an elevator door opening on a zombie (if you consider them temporary zombies) ala Dawn of the Dead. The acting is all solid, beginning with an absolutely perfect for the role Yeun, and his wingman in violent chaos, Samara Weaving.
There are moments when you wonder just how much under the influence Derek is, which after a while began to feel kinda brilliant to me. Is he using the virus as a cover to play Whack-A-Boss? Or is he really suffering from a complete breakdown of his inhibitions? The former makes you a cheerleader for a bad guy who is worse than the corporate goons he’s hunting, while the latter robs his sterling motivations of some sheen.
I recommend this movie is you don’t mind a lot of violence. I mean, a LOT. The message is obvious but one we can enjoy if we’ve ever had a sociopathic boss – which I have. The humor is clever and not over the top, the acting is good, the gore is well done and the zombie movie model gives it a nice edge.
Mayhem – OFFICIAL TRAILER