★★★★ Directed by: Lin Oeding Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jane Levy, Karan Soni, Zachary Levi, Kurt Fuller Grimmfest Film Festival Review by: Darren Tilby
An action-packed ‘zombie’ flick bursting with satire: Office Uprising tears apart American culture; taking swings at office politics, the arms trade, and US gun laws, to name but a few.
Desmond works in accounting at AmmoTech, the largest manufacturer and seller of “weapons of mass protection” in the US, which is going through a merger and having to lay off half its workforce. Head management, in an effort to boost morale and efficiency, distribute their own brand of recently developed energy drink, Zolt, amongst the office staff, causing somewhat drastic changes.
Desmond, played by Brenton Thwaites, is the protagonist of the piece and not only is he an actor who’s capable of great comic timing, but, has here, proven himself more than capable of doing some really fast-paced action sequences too; performing his own stunts for this film.
Zachary Levi takes on the role of regional manager and Desmond’s boss, Adam Nusbaum, a pretty unpleasant boss, even before the effects of Zolt kick in; achieving the perfect balance of the psycho killer and slightly ridiculous but completely hilarious management caricature. And the remainder of the supporting cast, featuring the talents of Jane Levy, Karan Soni, and Kurt Fuller is equally as hilarious in their respective roles; all of which are playful parodies of ‘typical’ office workers. Once things really kick off, Office Uprising is a high-powered adrenaline thrill-ride: there’s barely a scene in the film that doesn’t have groups of people brutally killing other groups of people.
Director, Lin Oeding's stunt background has been a real commodity for the film, something he has utilised here with stunning efficacy; not only creating some brilliant looking action sequences, but – due to the comedic and over-the-top nature of the violence – it also lightens the mood of the film; keeping it firmly within comedy territory.
As I've mentioned, Office Uprising is a full-blooded action movie, albeit on a smaller and more focused scale. But it’s also an incredibly stylistic film: using a Zombieland style plot device, Desmond lays out the rules for surviving in a modern office building, before beautifully summarising with his explanation of how the higher the floor of the office you work on, dictates how big a “douchebag” you are.
It's worth noting, however, this is not a zombie film in the traditional sense: there's no, “shoot them in the head” to kill them stuff, and no living dead in sight; it has more of a 28 Days Later kind of thing going on. The affected people (those who have drank at least one can of Zolt) still function as people; being able to think, talk, solve problems and make social groups. It's just that every flaw in their personalities is massively magnified; causing them to react violently to anything or anyone they dislike.
The film also manages a slew of digs at corporate America: subjects like US gun laws, office politics, and the corporate mindset; particularly the regard in which it holds its workers, are all parodied, ridiculed, and, ultimately, pulled apart in spectacularly violent fashion; something which has been achieved with a naturalistic finesse.
Office Uprising is a full-on, action-orientated and high-octane, smash everything to pieces ‘zombie flick’: there’s nothing new here, but the film’s stylistic flair and the plethora of well placed and well-written social-political commentary sets it apart from the rest. A surprisingly insightful film in many ways and if you’re looking for that sort of thing, you shouldn’t be disappointed; if not, then there’s plenty of bonkers, over-the-top, gory action and dark humour to satisfy even the hardiest horror veteran.