Writer/director James Gunn is now a household name among movie greeks thanks to Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy. Truth is, for years now the filmmaker has been honing his quirky, offbeat craft - with indie projects such as the horror/comedy Slither and Kick-Ass style comedy Super in the 2000s. Gunn is really something of a specialist in the art of blending horror with odd comedy, as he did with his screenplay for the Zack Snyder-helmed Dawn of the Dead remake in 2004.
The Belko Experiment is another example of a horror project that, like Dawn of the Dead, will feature a different filmmaker directing from a script penned by Gunn. Belko Experiment, however, is an original concept that Gunn devised some years back. That venture has now received an official green-light for production, as confirmed by no less an authority than Gunn (who will also be producing the film).
Gunn confirmed (via his Facebook page) that MGM is financing Belko Experiment - a film Gunn will also be co-producing alongside Peter Safran (The Conjuring, Annabelle). Production will get started by June this year in Bogota, Colombia, presumably with a tentative release date next year in mind. Here's a description of the Belko Experiment narrative, in Gunn's own words:
The story revolves around the American Belko company in South America which is mysteriously sealed off at the beginning of a work day, and its employees are ordered to kill each other or be killed themselves. This starts an escalation of violence, where we discover the true nature of each and every Belko employee.
Belko Experiment, by the sound of it, might play out as a Purge-style horror/thriller, albeit within a single setting context - minus the home invasion angle of the first Purge movie, anyway. Gunn also claimed that he only agreed to allow the film to be made under MGM's watch on the condition that it "has the heart and humor my films all had" - and then went on to assert that Belko Experiment is the "most intense and uncompromising" screenplay he's written to date.
Gunn's Belko Experiment script will be directed for the big screen by Greg Mclean - best known for his Australian outback-based survival horror/thrillers Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2. There are clear similarities between Mclean's previous work and Belko Experiment, so it's easy to see why he would be hired to serve as helmsman on the latter. Gunn has offered assurances that Mclean "shares my philosophy about honesty in film" and that his "naturalistic style" works great for Gunn's story.
Scripting Guardians of the Galaxy 2 script is Gunn's next big task, though it stands to reason: his ongoing role on Belko Experiment's development will help Gunn avoid feeling burnt-out on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Mclean-directed film will have comparatively niche appeal, but there should be a horror buff audience waiting to give this one a look - as there was for a horror title such as It Follows, most recently.
Update: James Gunn clarified that spelling of "Belco" is now with a "k" since the original didn't clear.
Look for The Belko Experiment to make its way to theaters in 2016.
Source: James Gunn