Mayhem (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoe Lynch
Produced byParisa Caviani
Mehrdad Elie
Buddy Enright
Lawrence Mattis
Matt Smith
Sean Sorensen
Andjelija Vlaisavljevic
Written byMatias Caruso
Music bySteve Moore
CinematographySteve Gainer
Edited byJosh Ethier
Circle of Confusion
Royal Viking Entertainment
Distributed byRLJE Films
20th Century Studios (Germany)
Release date
  • November 10, 2017 (2017-11-10)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.5 million [1][time needed]

Mayhem is a 2017 American action comedy horror film directed by Joe Lynch and written by Matias Caruso.[2] The film was released at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2017,[3] and The Sales art and poster was released at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2017.[4] It was released in US cinemas and on VOD and digital HD on November 10, 2017, through RLJE Films.[5]


Derek Cho tells the audience about the ID-7 "Red Eye" virus, that has been spreading throughout the world. It is not lethal, but infects neural pathways, removing all inhibition and moral integrity, resulting in people acting out their darkest impulses, which may include murder. Nevil Reed commits the first known case of murder driven by ID-7, but he was not deemed liable due to the virus' influence. Derek, a lawyer at Towers and Smythe Consulting (TSC), found the loophole that won Reed's case, earning him a corner office. Derek began his job full of optimism, but quickly lost his moral compass climbing the corporate ladder, even neglecting his family.

One morning, Derek goes into work and meets with a desperate client - Melanie Cross - who needs more time on a loan. Derek thinks he cannot help and calls security on her. After discovering that a bungled legal case for massive company Vandacorp has been pinned on him by his superior Kara Powell ("The Siren", as she has the ear of company head John Towers), Derek confronts her. They plead their cases to Towers, who orders Derek fired. Human resource chief Lester "The Reaper" McGill offers a hefty severance package in return for Derek claiming responsibility. Derek, afraid of being disbarred and sued, rejects this, so security begins escorting Derek out.

Just then, the building is put under quarantine as the ID-7 virus has been detected in the ventilation system. A neutralizing agent was released into the building, with an estimated eight hours for the virus to be obliterated. However, everyone in the building is infected in the meantime, resulting in chaos, violence and sex.

Derek attempts to take the elevator upstairs to protest to Towers and the board of directors for his job back. Towers instead sends Derek to the basement to be beaten up by Towers' enforcer, Colten "The Bull" Schneider. Derek's friend Ewan arrives to help, but he is accidentally killed by the Bull, infuriating Derek further.

Derek is locked up along with Melanie, who had resisted security. They quarrel but eventually decide to work together. Derek calls Vandacorp, ensuring his innocence in the mishandled case, and costing TSC a payment from Vandacorp. Realizing they will not be liable for their actions, Derek and Melanie grab weapons, intending to hold the people on the top floor responsible for their respective bad situations, but they require the Reaper and Kara's key cards to get there. Derek takes out two security guards sent to attack them.

En route to the Reaper, Derek incapacitates two more guards. The Reaper attacks them; Melanie kills him with a power saw. Derek and Melanie use his card to get up to Kara's office. They duel and brutalize five of Kara's coworkers. Kara offers her card for her safety, but her long-suffering assistant Meg has already destroyed it, having been offered a promotion to do it to protect those upstairs. Meg cuts out the Siren's tongue and kills her. Towers taunts Derek by urinating on Ewan's corpse. Melanie comforts Derek and they have sex.

Needing another method to get upstairs, Derek and Melanie convince the company's one IT worker to hack Irene Smythe's computer, getting her to come down. They offer Smythe's files in exchange for her card and a reversal of her original denial of Melanie's loan extension. Smythe refuses, stating that contracts signed during this period can be invalidated citing the virus. Melanie destroys Smythe's files. The Bull attacks Derek but is killed with a screwdriver. Smythe offers Derek top floor access in exchange for revenge on Melanie. Derek accepts, but sabotages Melanie's restraints. Melanie escapes and kills Smythe with a hammer.

On the top floor, Towers offers Derek a full partnership, but Derek refuses. Derek fends off Towers' assistants and battles Towers. TSC's board give him permission to kill Towers, so Derek punches him off the building to his death just as the quarantine is lifted.

Derek accepts the board's offer of Towers' job. He extends Melanie's loan, then promptly quits the company, and is later seen painting with Melanie. He advises the audience to take control of their own lives before it's too late, accompanied by a shot of Towers hitting the ground.



Mayhem was filmed in Belgrade, Serbia in March, 2016 over 25 days.[7][8] Joe Lynch explained in an interview the decision came down to cost, saying "we had to find a place that would give us the most amount of days to shoot. We went first to Pittsburgh and they said 15 days. Then we went to New Orleans and they said 17 days. Then we tried Vancouver and they said 18 days. But it was not enough time."[9] Serbia was also the filming location of his previous film, Everly.


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 85%, based on reviews from 60 critics, with an average score of 7.22/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Mayhem delivers stylish violence by the bloody bucketful — and grounds all the titular chaos in sharp humor and surprisingly effective real-world economic angst".[10] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 62 out of 100, based on reviews from 13 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11]

Joe Leydon of Variety called it "A smartly constructed and sardonically funny indie with attitude that somehow manages the tricky feat of being exuberantly over the top even as it remains consistently on target."[12] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "Joe Lynch’s fantastically creative, subversive and Tarantino-esque Mayhem stands alone as an entertainingly bloody and dark and twisted social satire — but it’s even more satisfying for those of us who loved Steven Yeun's Glenn on The Walking Dead."[13]


  1. ^ Lynch, Joe; Carnahan, Joe (November 29, 2017). "Director Joe Lynch discusses Mayhem". The Director's Cut (Podcast). Directors Guild of America. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  2. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (November 10, 2017). "Joe Lynch on His Action Horror 'Mayhem' and Casting Steven Yeun as His John McClane". Collider. Complex. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Barton, Steve (February 7, 2017). "SXSW 2017: Midnight Titles – Joe Lynch's Mayhem, Leslie Vernon, and More!". Dread Central. Dread Central Media. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  4. ^ Farrow, Kevan (May 20, 2017). "Work Sucks in Cannes Sales Art for Mayhem". Scream. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  5. ^ Farrow, Kevan (August 8, 2017). "Joe Lynch Unleashes Mayhem in November". Scream. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f DeFore, John (November 9, 2017). "'Mayhem': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  7. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 16, 2016). "'Walking Dead' Actor Steven Yeun to Star in Action Movie 'Mayhem'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  8. ^ "Unleashing Mayhem: Director Joe Lynch Talks Corporate Horror, and the Joys of Shooting Outside of Hollywood Confines". MovieMaker Magazine. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  9. ^ Aitkens, Chris (October 24, 2017). "[Exclusive] Interview With MAYHEM Director Joe Lynch". Nightmare on Film Street. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  10. ^ "Mayhem (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  11. ^ "Mayhem Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  12. ^ Leydon, Joe (21 March 2017). "SXSW Film Review: 'Mayhem'". Variety.
  13. ^ Roeper, Richard (10 November 2017). "Glenn lives again in twisted zombie satire 'Mayhem'". Chicago Sun-Times.

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