SUNDANCE LONDON – Claustrophobic Comedy ‘Corporate Animals’ is not for the Faint-Hearted

As barmy in concept as it is in execution, Patrick Brice’s Corporate Animals takes consumer culture to a whole new level of soul-destroying. What begins as a simple team-building retreat leads a group of unconvinced colleagues into a savage fight for their lives; they might work for a sustainable cutlery business, but the practices that unfold are anything but ethical. Violent, vulgar, and utterly bizarre, Corporate Animals reveals the very worst in all of us, and it’s great fun.

When domineering CEO Lucy (Demi Moore) takes her dubious employees on a caving expedition in New Mexico, it takes all of ten minutes for things to go horribly, horribly wrong. An earthquake leaves the group caved in with a dead body and a single sample packet of their own edible cutlery, and it’s not long before the colleagues begin to discover more about each other and the cracks in the business that Lucy has been hiding. Her assistants Freddie (Karan Soni) and Jess (Jessica Williams) discover they are competing for the same promotion, but when it becomes clear that nobody is coming to rescue them in the near future, the team must battle their petty differences to survive.

Fraught with carnage, hysteria, and sexual tension, Sam Bain’s screenplay pulls no punches when reckoning with the reality of the corporate food chain. The frenzied team discuss the pros and cons of cannibalism as if they were pitching a business proposal, all whilst their meagre intern slips into gangrene-induced hallucinations. As hope of rescue dwindles fissures in the team deepen, intensified by the claustrophobic setting. Though she preaches motivation and ambition and prides herself on the diversity of her team, it becomes clear that Lucy isn’t so well-intentioned, and finds herself confronted with life-threatening mutiny.

Of course, the sense of claustrophobia limits the narrative in the sense that there is little reprieve from the cave nor the few characters contained within it. Though fleshed out with consistent gags, the minimal action begins to get a little repetitive, and the characters are ultimately a little too caricature to really feel invested in. Nevertheless, for an 86-minute affair with our darkest humour and wishful vengeance on corporate culture, it’s very easy to enjoy – even if you might not look at your colleagues the same way again.

by Megan Wilson

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