You wait for one movie that works with the premise of a downtrodden office worker finding a renewed sense of purpose in the midst of a situation turning everyone incredibly violent and then three come along at once. Yes, after the corporate violence of The Belko Experiment and Mayhem, Office Uprising is the latest genre offering to remind everyone of how much stronger the survival instinct can be in people who are spend most days trying to avoid being stabbed in the back by colleagues.
Brenton Thwaite is Desmond, a laid-back staff member at Ammotech, a leading company in the world of weapon manufacturing. Cutbacks are happening, leading to a more competitive atmosphere than ever, but "our hero" would rather spend as much time as he can developing his phone app/game on company time. That lazy schedule is interrupted, however, when most of his colleagues turn into raging maniacs. It is all the fault of an energy drink this time. A scientifically-engineered energy drink. Once ingested, it ramps up the aggression levels of the drinker. Desmond needs to get to safety, with the only two co-workers he views as anything like friends.
Directed by Lin Oeding, already a bit of a veteran in the stunt industry and now building a directorial career in shorts, TV, and this feature, the worst thing about Office Uprising is that it comes along after two superior movies riffing on very similar material.
The other worst thing about it is the tone. Writers Ian Shorr and Peter Gamble never seem committed to their own creation. The humour isn't as sharp or smart as it could be, and the moments of violence generally use shouting and insults to try and distract viewers from the fact that there's not that much actual nastiness and bloodshed on display. It's a shame, especially when Shorr has the wince-inducing Splinter in his filmography, and leaves you with the impression that the film doesn't have any guts or heart beneath the surface.
There's one more major factor working against it. Thwaites just doesn't make for a great lead in this particular role. He's just not a good fit here, almost sleepwalking through most of his screentime, which is a shame. It's a good job that the two people he hopes to keep alive are Jane Levy (already able to make a claim as something of a scream queen) and Karan Soni (arguably best known for his hilarious turn as Dopinder in the Deadpool movies). And the main villain of the piece is played with the expected level of aplomb by Zachary Levi, which also helps. Gregg Henry and Kurt Fuller aren't given enough screentime though, and there isn't quite enough to fix the damage caused by the miscasting of Thwaites.
It's not a terrible film, especially if you're after something that mixes some humour and horror without too much gore thrown around the place, but it lacks bite (no pun intended), it lacks focus and commitment, and it's never one that I would encourage you to prioritise above others that you may want to take a chance on.
Office Uprising is currently available on Netflix (UK, not sure about other territories).