Mayhem Indeed! (Especially if You’re a Black Woman)

It should come as no surprise that as a lover of all things horror, I enjoy movies that have a good bit of violence in them from time to time. For most of my teen years, Quentin Tarantino movies were my favorite kind because he never skimped on gushing blood or brutal fight scenes. To this day, Kill Bill is my favorite movie of all time. Yes, my love for occasional violent fun is why when I saw the trailer for Mayhem, I knew I found a winner.


For the most part, the movie surpassed my expectations, but there is one area in which I was a bit disappointed, but I’ll get to that later. For now, let’s talk about the good stuff.

First, a little synopsis.

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(Most of it is general stuff or in the trailer. I just liked this pic lol)

Derick Cho (played by the awesome, kick-ass Steven Yeun) is a lawyer at Towers and Smythe Consulting firm who is unceremoniously fired after being framed for a co-worker’s error. Lucky (or unlucky) for Cho, the day that he’s laid off is also the day that the ID-7 virus breaks out in the Towers building causing the whole building to be quarantined for eight hours. The ID-7 or Red Eye virus causes a massive rise in stress and anger while lowering inhibitions and moral integrity resulting in violent hysteria, debauchery, and overall, well, mayhem.

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Joined by an aggrieved former client of the firm, Melanie Cross (played by Margot Robbie Samara Weaving), the two make the dangerous and brutal journey to the penthouse suite to confront Cho’s boss and plead (or kill) for his job back.

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(Nah bruh. This gotta be the same person. Margot Robbie out here collecting extra checks)

And oh yeah, I forgot to mention. Due to a previous case, no one is legally responsible for any of their actions while under the influence of the ID-7 virus.

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That’s right folks! It’s The Purge up in this bitch and everyone is high on rage and revenge.

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Reasons to watch:

Baaad Mutha Fukka Steven Yeun is BACK!

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If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead then this movie is one of the few places that you can see Steven Yeun in a role that is pretty close to that of Glenn Rhee. The character Derick Cho seems to have started off like a nice enough guy (like Glenn) until outside circumstances like zombies or a rage inducing virus causes him to level up into an ass kicking, pepper spray spitting, man you DO NOT WANT TO FUCK WITH.

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Honestly, it was a bit nostalgic seeing Yeun just beat the shit out of bitches all over the place. In fact, in a certain scene where Cho’s back is against the wall and things look dire for him and his lady love, I was reminded of a season 3 Walking Dead episode where Glenn FUCKED UP not only a zombie but one of the Governor’s henchmen while tied to a chair.

Talk about badass.

Mayhem Isn’t Taking Itself Too Seriously

As I said in a previous article, The Purge is a pretty amazing franchise not only because of the brutal and horrific premise but because of the clear social and political allusions scattered throughout it.

I’m fine with violence, but at times watching The Purge movies and seeing images that straight up mirror real-life events can be mentally stressful. You don’t have to worry about that with Mayhem.

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You could argue that the movie is tackling themes dealing with the viciousness of uninhibited human nature and the brutal dog eat dog nature of corporate America, but for the most part, it’s just a bloody, fun movie.

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Awesome Fight Scenes

Who here doesn’t like watching a good fight? I know I do. It’s why I love kung fu moves and anything with Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee. The only problem with some of those fights is that they look a bit choreographed. They’re too clean and the average person doesn’t fight like Jet Li.

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Nah, if you got in a fight right now, you’re going to pull some hair, gouge some eyes, and hope that the person you’re fighting has balls so you can kick them. This is the type of fighting you’ll see in Mayhem. Dirty, with pretty effective weaponry made from office supplies.

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In fact, my favorite scene in the movie is the one I referred to earlier where things look grim for Cho. One of the bosses lackies has him cornered and the two enter a fight which lands Cho on the ground and the lacky ready to mace him in the face at close range. All looks lost but what does our badass extraordinaire do?

He opens his mouth catching the pepper spray and spits it right back into the dickheads face!

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Plausibility aside, this scene was incredible and that alone is worth the watch.

Reason to Not Watch

Siren as a Jezabel

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Okay. Time for the one con. Now this is a problem that I’m sure no one who isn’t black caught with the film and it lies with the only black character in the movie, Cara nicknamed The Siren.

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Cara is Cho’s direct superior and the person who framed him for her mistake, but this isn’t where her problem lies with the movie. She’s nicknamed the Siren because it’s implied that she is the Bosses mistress and uses her powers of seduction to get her way and climb the corporate ladder.

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Now, I’m not slut shaming, and however you need to get ahead, do it sis, but in the realm of a story when you’re creating a character, writers need to be mindful of the stereotypes and tropes that are associated with the cultures and people they are writing about.

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Black women have had a multitude of stereotypes cast on them, but the one I see occurring more often than the others is that of the Jezabel. This stereotype is one in which black women are seen as overly sexualized and using their sexuality to seduce and manipulate more powerful (usually white) men.

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Now personally, I’m not against using what you have to get what you want, but this stereotype is ignoring the uneven power dynamics, historical objectification and limited options of black women.

The problem with The Siren’s character is that she is conforming to this stereotype in every way and the movie does nothing to subvert it. She’s unlikable, she’s manipulative, even her name is a Greek seductive killer!

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I doubt that when Joe Lynch and Matius Caruso came up with the story, they said, “Hey let’s make a black character and make her conform to the negative stereotype of a bed wench!” ( I hate the term bed wench btw and only hoteps assholes usually use it) but the fact is that the stereotype is loud and clear in this movie. The problem more so lies with the ignorance of white and clueless writers and the lack of black people in the horror film industry. If any black writer of producer (especially a black woman) had looked at that script before it went into shooting, I’m sure they would have pointed it out and the writers could have come up with a way to fix it.

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But that didn’t happen and now black women who watch the movie have to struggle with the question do I choose negative covertly racist representation or no representation at all?

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Obviously, I noticed the problem, and though I was disappointed, I didn’t let it stop me from enjoying all of the great things about the movie.

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(Me watching the movie until I saw the Siren’s parts)

I still recommend Mayhem even with its fault, I just wish these filmmakers would fucking educate themselves.


Check out the trailer here!

You can find Mayhem on Shudder and on Youtube I think.

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