[Review] Cannibal Comedy ‘Corporate Animals’ Takes Literal Approach to Biting SatireSeptember 20, 2019
Director Patrick Brice already proved he had a knack for awkward horror-comedy in Creep and Creep 2, as evidenced by memorable moments like “tubby time,” a phrase that elicits chills and guffaws all at once. In Corporate Animals, he dials up the humor tenfold. There’s nothing subtle about this workplace satire, and Brice is unafraid to take the comedy to some wacky places.
Lucy is the poster child of corporate greed. Played by Demi Moore, Lucy is the CEO of Incredible Edibles, a company that appeals to the ecologically conscious with edible cutlery products. She’s ruthless, selfish, and full of buzzwords and “woke” phrases to keep her battered employees under her thumb. She whisks them away to a team-building retreat in middle of nowhere New Mexico, and stands by as they strain themselves over a team-building exercise. When it’s time for a cave expedition, she forces their hired guide Brandon (Ed Helms) to take them on the advanced route they’re ill-prepared for. Of course, they’re soon trapped by a cave-in, and the disgruntled employees don’t take long to turn to cannibalism.
Written by Sam Bain (Four Lions, Fresh Meat), Corporate Animals plays like an Alive meets The Office sketch comedy. In other words, the humor is largely comprised of the character antics and their personality quirks. At the forefront are her two assistants Freddie (Karan Soni) and Jess (Jessica Williams), both long-suffering but kept in competition with each other over potential job promotions. Both cope with varying abuse by Lucy, but their close proximity to her makes them unofficial leaders once things go south. Aidan (Bodied’s Calum Worthy) is the standout as the employee who injures himself early on, and the budding infection leads to some absurd comedy- including a lot of Britney Spears gags.
This is essentially a chamber piece, and despite the limited locale, Brice does enough with it visually to keep the brisk runtime moving along at a snappy pace. The cave is large enough for the cast to spread out, too. But this comedy of terrors is all character work and not much plot. So how much you’ll connect with this film depends on how much this type of humor works for you. A lot of the gags work well, especially with Aidan, but some jokes get repetitive. Though it does have a kitchen-sink approach; from deadpan to overt slapstick sitcom fare. Much of it hinges on Moore’s performance as the gleefully callous boss, and her comedic timing is brilliant.
Often in horror-comedies, the ratio of horror to comedy is heavily skewed in one direction. The satire is heavy-handed in this horror-comedy, and the horror is minimal. There are a few great moments of gruesome gore, but again, everything is in service to the humor. Corporate Animals is a sitcom stretched to feature length, without much narrative to drive it. It’s aimless. It’ll make you laugh and groan, but there’s not a lot of bite behind its bark. This is just pure entertainment that skewers corporate greed and its trickle effect on the resentful employees. Brice and the cast make excellent use of their limited space, but how much you enjoy the film will depend solely on your sense of humor as its only goal is to make you laugh.
Corporate Animals is releasing in theaters and on demand on September 20, 2019.