Review: Corporate Animals (Sundance)

Corporate Animals (Sundance)
5 10

PLOT: The CEO (Demi Moore) of Incredibles Edibles, a company specializing in edible cutlery, invites her harried staff along for a team building weekend exploring the caves of New Mexico. When disaster strikes, it doesn’t take long for the team to revert to backstabbing, betrayals, and casual cannibalism.

REVIEW: Folks around the Sundance Film Fest have been calling director Patrick Brice’s CORPORATE ANIMALS “The Office meets THE DESCENT”. That’s not altogether inaccurate, but I’d add that the film, despite a few inspired moments of lunacy, is not nearly as good as either of those and one of the few disappointments in this year’s crop of midnight titles at the fest.

Brice has a superb track record, with the CREEP films and what I think is his best movie, THE OVERNIGHT. However, the key difference between those films and this one if that with CORPORATE ANIMALS he doesn’t have a writing credit and the movie feels watered down compared to his earlier work.

The premise isn’t bad, with Demi Moore’s Lucy, a heartless CEO, dragging her employees along on a spelunking trip through the caves of New Mexico, with the solid ensemble including DEADPOOL’s Karan Soni, Jessica Williams, Nasim Pedrad, the always great Isiah Whitlock Jr. and, in a small role, Ed Helms. The set-up works, with Brice able to quickly establish the office dynamic, with the key being that Lucy’s playing Soni and Williams’s characters against each other for a major promotion, although we know the company is on the verge of collapse thanks to offhand comments made by another of the employees.

Once disaster strikes, the film tries to embrace a ridiculous, Grand Guignol vibe, but the film is ultimately too broad. Perhaps that’s what’s most disappointing, as with the CREEP movies Brice was able to move effortlessly back and forth from comedy to horror, but CORPORATE ANIMALS, despite the gore, never really succeeds in being scary as per its inclusion in the midnight section. This wouldn’t be a problem were the film funny enough to work as an all-out comedy, but despite a few good jokes many of the gags are predictable, such as an extended drug trip for Soni after he eats some psychedelic gnats.

Moreover, you never really find yourself too invested in any of the characters, with Soni too cartoonish to empathize with as a leading man, while Williams has a character that feels underwritten. Demi Moore fares well in a comic turn as the company CEO, which plays like a spoof of her character from DISCLOSURE, but the only consistently funny one is “American Vandal”’s Calum Worthy as the company intern, who starts to hallucinate about Brittany Spears after his grotesque leg wound starts to get gangrene.

It’s a shame that CORPORATE ANIMALS isn’t great because the casting is spot-on, and if the material was there I’m sure all would have delivered magnificently. Slapstick is tough to pull off, especially when mixed with gore and violence. There are moments where you can see the potential shine through, but otherwise, this is a rare misfire from Brice.

Source: JoBlo.com



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