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Stream it or ignore it?

Workplace satire meets ’80s slasherama in The conference (now on Netflix), a yucky, yucky Swedish film that relishes the idea of ​​macheting corporate culture into bloody little pieces. I’ve long argued that horror is rarely good if it doesn’t find a way to make you laugh, and director Patrik Eklund keeps his tongue in his cheek and a bucket of fake blood on hand at all times. If you all have that coworker who drives you crazy to the point where you’re inspired to fantasize about horrible things happening to them, this movie might just scratch that itch.

The essential: These people are scares. Most of them, anyway. And none of them are the killer, because they prefer to ruin lives indirectly, so death has a ripple effect – stabbing someone with a machete would just be too non-passive-aggressive for these assholes. Who exactly am I talking about here? Retail developers, that’s who. They are led by Ingela (Maria Sid), a greedy boss with a hypocritical smile, and her project manager, the toad Jonas (Adam Lundgren), who looks like an eel in human form. They migrated their team from the office to a van to a patch of farmland in the middle of nowhere that is the future location of a shopping center, and Ingela brought her gold-plated shovel for the big groundbreaking ceremony of tomorrow. Hooray for capitalism and “progress”, right? Yeah, sure, whatever.

At this point, we should be grateful to sympathetic protagonists like Lina (Katia Winter), who is back at work after a long sick leave and who senses something fishy with this project, and if you already guessed that the smell stinks of eel, well, you might be on to something. She looks at the contracts and sees his signature, but doesn’t remember signing. Given that the deal deprives local farmers of their land without compensating them, it’s not something she would approve of. She may have one or two allies among her colleagues – that doesn’t really sit well with Nadja (Bahar Pars) and Amir (Amed Bozan). Kaj (Christoffer Nordenrot), stupid and idiotic, kowtows a little to the bosses. Eva (Eva Melander), Anette (Cecilia Nilsson), and Torbjorn (Claes Hartelius) are neither here nor there, presenting themselves as people who just want to get through the day and collect their paycheck.

The group meets at a remote “vacation village” with cabins in the woods and a nearby lake, and don’t say Camp Crystal Lake, because actually, go ahead and say it, because the homage is damn obvious. They engage in a variety of team-building exercises like sack races and terrifying trips down a zip line, and Jonas surprises everyone with a mall mascot costume nicknamed Sooty, complete with a large smiling helmet and ugly who looks like Pinocchio if he lived. the other side of the tunnel Coraline. So, you are probably wondering: when does the massacre start? By the time Sooty arrives, it’s already done, but it only intensifies when the killer puts on that ominous face, which looks so much better when it’s all smeared with blood.

Photo: Netflix

What films will this remind you of? : Lars von Trier has already directed a comedy – it’s true! – and it’s a vicious satire of the workplace, The boss of everything. So take this and cross it with Friday 13 and add a scary papier-mâché head that looks like Michael Fassbender’s in Franc if an exorcism was necessary, and you The conference.

Performances to watch: Lundgren is extremely unlikable as an untrustworthy, slippery, greedy, devious, and nearly irredeemable piece of shit, and his characterization is so on point that there’s no doubt that this guy almost deserves his inevitable hilariously horrible fate.

Memorable dialogues: Decontextualized: “We do competitive development. »

Sex and skin: Jonas’ skinny man butt.

Our opinion : The conference This is what happens when a filmmaker pays equal attention to satirical commentary and murder. The killings! All horror fans love to kill, and Eklund gives us some examples of cruel, relentless massacres of satisfying putrescence. There are moments where one scratches one’s head at the sheer incompetence of these characters, who never seem to realize that they outnumber the killer five, six or seven to one, and, since he doesn’t use guns, what slasher uses guns when there are chainsaws, electric drills and frying pans here and there? – could probably disarm and disable it with simple teamwork. But then you realize that these people are selfish idiots and their inability to work together is probably part of the whole thing.

That’s not to say the film is particularly insightful or overly hilarious, but it is consistent in its tone and intention. Eklund’s MO is to establish sympathetic, unsympathetic, and comedic characters, then eliminate them in creative and bloody ways. Fans of corporate culture and its impotent jargon and exploitative practices will surely take offense, while legitimate human beings will find some of this rather amusing. Mind you, this is one of those films that doesn’t seem as interesting as the theoretical sequel in which the survivor(s) try to explain what happened during debriefings and court proceedings and such. The conference it’s not that bad as is, but at this point I’d almost rather see what happens next.

Our call: Spread it. You’ll laugh a little, squirm a little, and maybe feel the need to quit your soulless cubicle job.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

New York Post

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