Have a look at this:
You’d think this movie a twist on the manga and movie “Battle Royale”, and on the surface you’d be correct. Instead of BR’s high school students being kidnapped and stranded on a deserted island, TBE has office workers in South America trapped in their curiously well-fortified office building. Both purposes are for all participants to kill each other until one remains alive.
The movie is written by James Gunn (Dawn of the Dead! Guardians of the Galaxy!) and directed by Greg McLean (aussiesplatter classic Wolf Creek). Actors are mainly from TV, including John McGinley (who always does great villains), the President from “Scandal”, the big guy from “ER”, and a lot of actual South Americans, even though it was shot in NY state though set in Bogota.
In BR, the government selects a class at random each year. In TBE, we are never really told why the voice demands the massacre, except for a vague monologue by a disfigured white guy at the end of the movie.
However, deeper down, TBE owes much more to “The Cabin In The Woods”, Joss Whedons’ satirical ode to American horror tropes. As mentioned, a faceless corporation maintains the high-tech murder site and watches using omnicient security cameras. Both movie feature a pot-smoking slacker who turns the corporate technology against its masters.
What actually happens? Trailer says it all. The tension is evenly paced. Characters are believable, even slightly sympathetic. The cool boss becomes lethally practical, friendships are betrayed, old scores are settled.
What didn’t work? The pothead in “Cabin In The Woods” was sharp and rebellious where TBE’s stoner bordered on hysteria, yet somehow overcomes qualms to literally pick through the remains of his co-workers, and that just did not convince. Also, the director of “Wold Creek” must have wanted some practical effects gore, but the prosthetics here are more ambitious, and the camera lingered too long on skulls looking more deflated than shattered.
Overall, it was a taut, entertaining thought experiment at 1 1/2 hours long. Have a look at it when it hits streaming or cable.