Critic-turned-filmmaker Bilge Ebiri's creepy comedy about the mundane horror of working for a living locates the heart of darkness somewhere in the general vicinity of the boss's office. It's Gregg's (Kelly Miller) first day at work, and he has the new-guy jitters. Shy and slightly ill at ease, Gregg just wants to make a good impression, get along with his coworkers and hang onto his job for a while. But every little thing, from the balky men's-room taps to the guy whose marathon phone conversations with his girlfriend make concentration impossible, seems designed to trip him up. Worse, there's something odd about the apparently characterless drudge factory whose motto, "Sacrifice Equals Success," seems less hokey and more ominous as the day wears on. Gregg's cubicle is completely covered with cryptic Post-It notes and there's a streak of blood on the pantry wall. Grown men burst into tears in the elevator, a surly boor monopolizes the fax machine, the sinister janitor (Johnny Ray) glowers and mutters to himself in Spanish and the employee who takes Gregg's key-card ID photo without which he can't open the office's electronic doors hints darkly about what goes on after hours. There's also the disturbing matter of Gregg's predecessor, whom office jokers Jim (Scott Janes) and Justin (Jonathan Uffelman) the kind of overgrown frat boys who affect a hail-fellow-well-met demeanor to cover for their mean-spirited bullying swear murdered an intern with an oversize stapler. The same blood-caked stapler that Gregg immediately tosses in the trash, only to find it perched mysteriously on his desk later in the day. But the really spooky stuff starts later. Gregg gets himself locked in after everyone else has supposedly gone home, and begins to suspect that he's not alone and whoever, or whatever, is there with him isn't friendly. Shot on harshly lit digital video, Ebiri's first feature a tongue-in-cheek union of OFFICE SPACE (1999) and THE WICKER MAN (1973) rises above its low-budget limitations by pandering to the most outrageously paranoid fantasies of unhappy office drones. Who hasn't joked that senior staff worships He Who Walks Behind the Cubicle Rows or that the jerk down the hall made a Faustian swap for that swanky office? Performances are solid and the washed-out, blue-tinged cinematography lends a sickish aura to the soul-eroding cubicles, offices and conference rooms that all too vividly evoke the mind-set of depressed wage slaves.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: NR
- Review: Critic-turned-filmmaker Bilge Ebiri's creepy comedy about the mundane horror of working for a living locates the heart of darkness somewhere in the general vicinity of the boss's office. It's Gregg's (Kelly Miller) first day at work, and he has the new-guy… (more)