There were eight versions of The Office across the globe: Canada, Chile, France, Germany Israel, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States. All of the different versions were consistent in maintaining a dry, sarcastic tone. But finally someone has broken the trend and offered up a new approach. Writer James Gunn created a savagely violent Troma version of The Office and renamed it The Belko Experiment.
According to James Gunn, he wrote The Belko Experiment while going through a divorce with Jenna Fischer. The same Jenna Fischer that just so happened play Pam in the American version of The Office. Coincidence?
No Pam. It is NOT a coincidence.
The Belko Experiment is a direct adaptation of the American Office. The only real difference between the two: violence. Cruel, brutally graphic violence. While The Office is a lighthearted sitcom that delivered laughs and an easy moral in 30 minutes, The Belko Experiment delivers fewer laughs and no moral. But there is a ton of blood in it.
The biggest tell is that the cast of The Belko Experiment is an obvious reflection of the cast in the US version of the The Office. Gunn appears to have borrowed a script from his then wife, changed all of the character names, removed half of the jokes, and replaced any mention of “sells paper” with “shoots in the head”.
The Office uses Jim as the audience’s straight-man, the normal guy most people can relate with. Jim is now Mike. But other than first name, they are essentially the same character. Both leading men have that low-key, cool guy attitude and disheveled yet handsome appearance. Both men serve as some sort of moral compass.
But that’s not all! Both Jim and Mike enjoy an saccharine office romance. Both guys have a rivalry with the office weirdo. Both are good friends with the office’s black guy. Both have a unique bond with the office matriarch.
The remainder of the Belko office is made up of carbon copy Dunder Mifflin staff. There’s the gay Latino, the uptight religious blond, and the drug induced crackpot. Seriously. The entire cast is represented. Ryan’s there. Kelly’s there. They’re all there. And dead. They’re all dead now. Did I mention that The Belko Experiment is violent?
But what about Michael?!
Oh… I didn’t forget about Michael. He is very accurately on portrayed in The Belko Experiment, as a brutal murderer. Imagine Scranton, PA has fallen into anarchy and its citizens must survive a war zone. You think Michael would keep his cool? That dude would be the first one to pull the trigger in the same of self-preservation.
In The Belko Experiment, Michael has been swapped with Barry. In the conversion process, Barry lost pretty much all of his humor. All that’s left is a man who’s easily put on edge and a ticking time bomb. And don’t fool yourself into thinking Barry ruins Michael’s legacy.
Michael was a monster, a sociopath with classic narcissistic behaviors and held fast to delusions of grandeur. If you don’t think Michael was the Scranton Strangler, you’re living in denial. At least Barry is more open and honest about his murderous ways.
And this is where Gunn begins to separate his version of The Office from the more traditional versions. While each episode of The Office features a moral of the week, The Belko Experiment doesn’t seem particularly interested in saying anything meaningful. Other than die or be killed.
But that’s kind of the point. And in some ways it works in The Belko Experiment’s favor. There aren’t any wholesome lessons to be learned. Besides, after displaying so much gratuitous violence, The Belko Experiment would have felt completely insincere had it mounted a moral high horse and rode away into the sunset.
No. The moral in this version of The Office is that there is no moral. This is humanity at its absolute worst. There is no meaning other than to show how when pushed to the limit, even the “best” humans will turn into murderous psychopaths.
So Jim better cool it with the office pranks. Dwight can only be pushed so far.
Look. The Belko Experiment isn’t the best version of The Office, but it is the most unique and definitely the most brutal. I think it’s worth a watch, with some caveats of course:
- Are you okay with seeing faces bashed in?
- Are you able to watch endless scenes of people unsuccessfully pleading for their life?
- Will your stomach handle nonstop exploding heads?
- Can you separate fiction from reality and resist replicating what you see into the real world?
If you answer yes to all four questions, and you are okay with subverting a beloved sitcom, then I’d say you should give The Belko Experiment a try.
This Troma version of The Office is a wild excursion into a demented fictional world where office politics are a matter of life and death. But if The Belko Experiment is not befitting of your taste in entertainment there are eight other versions for you to try. Maybe you’d like to try the British version? It may not be as bloody, it’s still a bloody good time.