Recently there have been some nasty outbreaks of a very serious virus that has an unusual effect on its sufferers. Although a cure has been found, it is not particularly fast-acting, and takes some hours to have an effect, resulting in cases where people have been killed while waiting for the infection to wear off. Its symptoms are a sudden breaking down of any inhibitions, which tends towards violence, leaving the victims resorting to any excuse for a fight, and even further. There was one instance of an early sufferer murdering someone and not being blamed as he was not in control of his actions. Which gives anyone in the same position some hope they will not be prosecuted...
Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of Mayhem was that nobody was eaten in it, as it came on like one of those fast zombies movies where a virus causes the population to start chasing after one another and tearing chunks out of their bodies with their teeth, but it was not like that at all, it was more a corporate satire along the lines of the contemporary The Belko Experiment. Something else it resembled was Ben Wheatley's adaptation of J.G. Ballard's High Rise, where a society in a posh tower block breaks down with bloody consequences, another work that featured a commentary on the thin line between citizens agreeing to get along and deciding to give into their basic instincts.
But crucially, not a zombie movie: if anything, the business acumen is honed to a fine point by the disease and creates a whole breed of corporate sharks willing to figuratively bite whoever gets in their way. The satire stemmed from them not being that much different beforehand - they simply were not prepared to turn to violence before, and they assuredly are now. They even scheme to see how much murder they can get away with before the effects wear off, knowing since that test case they will not be held responsible for their actions, and if what remnants of a conscience they contained can bear the brunt of blame for others' deaths, then they will jump into the situation with both feet.
Steven Yuen was our hero, or anti-hero in this context, fresh off his regular role in The Walking Dead before his unfortunate demise. And resurrection. And demise again. Anyway, he proved himself capable of carrying a movie here as he rampaged through the plot, his character Derek Cho working his way up from the lower levels of the block and using anything he had to hand to deliver violent methods of doing so. Part of the joke was the maniacs used whatever would be available in an office environment, so a nailgun used in maintenance comes in very handy for Derek's new ally Melanie (Samara Weaving), and the office scissors are put to a purpose far removed from cutting paper; at least it made a change from the protagonist getting their mitts on an arsenal of firearms and gunning down all and sundry.
All that said, while there was plenty of gusto in the action, a monotony did set in after a while as you could more or less anticipate where Mayhem was heading from the second the virus got into the company block. If Derek and Melanie, the lawyer he severely disappointed in a professional capacity, were not able to right the wrongs inflicted on them in a business or legal fashion (Derek has been abruptly made the fall guy for one of the higher ups' mistakes), then it would not be a satisfying watch, yet with that in mind, you knew this drive to make a stand for the corporate drones who have to put up with indignities large and small every day was not going to leave our protagonists wanting. Therefore this was better to chew over as a commentary than it was as a horror movie narrative, where there was a feeling we had been here before; not bad as far as that went, but the conclusion was pat when the option of bloodshed was not available to everyone watching this fantasy. Music by Steve Moore.