In office horror, the companies operate in the red
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NEW YORK, March 20 — Talk about a wicked case of the Mondays. Almost anyone who has worked in an office has felt beaten down by the job at some point, whether it’s by an annoying co-worker, a demanding boss or monotonous daily tasks. It’s enough to make some people crack. Films like Office Space and shows like The Office turned the pitfalls of office culture into comedy.
But what does it look like when that desire to smack a colleague silly is taken to darker places? You get the subgenre of office horror, in which bodies pile up alongside the copy machine. The latest entries include The Belko Experiment and the forthcoming Mayhem, about the most hellish days at the office you can imagine. Here’s a look at these, and other, office nightmares.
The Belko Experiment
Director: Greg McLean
Plot: It starts just like any other day at Belko Industries, a Bogotá, Colombia, non-profit that has American employees. But then a voice on the intercom tells employees they must kill a certain number of their co-workers, or more will die. Steel doors lock everyone in, touching off a Hunger Games-style kill-or-be-killed scenario. The movie includes several familiar types — the budding couple; the slacker; the stern boss; the annoying, too-flirty co-worker — and pits them against one another in a grisly death match.
Gruesome break from routine: One especially unlucky employee is bludgeoned with a tape dispenser.
Director: Joe Lynch
Plot: In this film, which made its premiere at the South by Southwest film festival this month, a nasty virus is going around, one that attacks the id and makes people act out their most basic instincts. When the virus invades a law practice, the building is quarantined and one disgruntled and infected legal analyst (Steven Yeun of The Walking Dead) makes a bloody climb up the corporate ladder.
Gruesome break from routine: After the analyst and a client get access to the tool closet, they use hammers, wrenches, a fire extinguisher and a nail gun in a showdown with employees.
Director: Brian James O’Connell
Plot: Sometimes your boss really is out to get you. In this 2015 horror-comedy, workers at a telemarketing company get a new sales manager who’s a corporate vampire — literally. Soon after he arrives, some employees start acting strange and their complexions begin to pale. It’s up to two overlooked telemarketers and a security guard to bring an end to their boss and the havoc he is wreaking.
Gruesome break from routine: During a visit to the supply closet, the guys break the handles off brooms, pull the blade off a paper cutter and get to work.
Director: Cindy Sherman
Plot: In this 1997 thriller from the artist and photographer Cindy Sherman, office life is more appealing than the alternative for one lonely woman. Because of budget cuts, Dorine (Carol Kane), a proofreader at a magazine, is forced to work from home, which depresses her further. But when she accidentally electrocutes a co-worker on a visit to the office, she becomes energised and ends up going on a murder spree, killing more colleagues and others.
Gruesome break from routine: After poisoning her boss, Dorine brings the body home and places it on the couch with that of her electrocuted co-worker. She sits between them and watches TV while talking to the corpses.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Director: Joe Dante
Plot: This 1990 sequel to the 1984 critter film is set at the state-of-the-art corporate offices of Clamp Enterprises, where the furry Gizmo has become a subject of research. But after one employee (Zach Galligan from the first film) rescues him, Gizmo is hidden and left alone in the office, where water spills on him and he multiplies. Ultimately an unruly group of Gremlins is hell bent on destruction.
Gruesome break from routine: A woman taping a cooking show for Clamp’s network opens up the pot to check on a noodle dish. But a gremlin pops out and sprays her in the face with a turkey baster. Another gremlin in a chef’s hat further terrorises her. — The New York Times