Inès (45) may have behaved like a model employee in her business selling cleaning products, but she was never recognized or paid properly. Under the blasé gaze of Mélody, the young trainee, she decides to ask Patrick, her boss, for her first raise. But the situation gets out of hand, Mélody tries to intercede; Patrick ends up with a broken skull. The accident looks like a crime. What can be done? What Ines knows how to do best: clean up.
What should you do when, after 17 years of loyal service to your company and only 2 sick days taken, your idiot of a condescending boss still refuses to give you a raise? Why, you accidentally kill him, that’s what! Coming to you from Belgium, discover Véronique Jadin’s “Employee of the Month” which made its Canadian premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.
EcoCleanPro, a cleaning product company, has been what Inès (Jasmina Douieb) has called a career for numerous years.Sadly, working there has never been simple, easy, nor rewarding for her. She is the only female employee in an ultra-sexist office environment, surrounded by immature and chauvinistic imbeciles who only laugh at her, degrade her, and demand coffee, despite scorning the way she prepares it, anyway. She does the job of 5 different people and gets paid half of one, all while having to train the new intern, Melody (Laetitia Mampaka). Today, however, Inès has written up her speech with concrete arguments, rehearsed it numerous times, and has mustered up the courage to confront her boss, Patrick (Peter Van den Begin), about getting that raise. Not only does her boss refuse, but he attempts to receive sexual favors from her. Melody sees this through the boss’ office window and barges in to interrupt, accidentally knocking over Patrick, and, without spoiling it, triggers a domino effect which accidentally results in his death, right there behind his own desk. Shocked, they attempt to cover it up, but embark on a series of unfortunate events that keep eliminating the male employees one by one. There’s a way to eliminate toxic masculinity!
Writer/director Véronique Jadin does a fantastic job at making the audience despise Inès’ male colleagues. They almost seem like a smaller version of the cast of “The Office” at first (including the boss who actually has a “Best Boss” mug), but in much less likable (and hilarious) fashion. As the audience is introduced to them, every male character seems more annoying, arrogant and obnoxious than the previous. The screenplay successfully tackles numerous contemporary issues such as gender equity, male superiority complex, as well as sexual assault towards women. Jadin establishes the tedious and monotone pace of the office life very clearly in the first act of her motion picture as the audience rapidly sympathizes with the main protagonist, having every social obstacle after obstacle thrown at her. Even the female head of the corporate office ignores her while the intern laughs in her face regarding having a career at EcoCleanPro.
Jasmina Douieb performs phenomenally as we follow the evolution of her character, genuinely performed each step of the way. At first timid, low profile, and begrudgingly accepting every demand from her colleagues, she slowly gains confidence and poise in every decision she makes following the first (accidental) murder. Although Laetitia Mampaka’s intern character supports her both fictionally and onscreen, Douieb is the true star of the film, carrying it on her shoulder.
While Jadin’s first co-written feature and fictional directorial debut does contain its share of moments that might make you smile or chuckle, it lacks a ton of laugh-out-loud scenes and situations, forcing some segments, although amusing and shocking at once in the depiction of male toxicity, to stretch on endlessly in the first half of the film. Luckily, the second half picks up in entertainment value with comical deaths, clever cover-ups, as well as the growth and self-realization of the protagonist’s character. The ending, while farfetched and convenient, is nonetheless quite rewarding in every sense imaginable.
As odd as it may sound, “Employee of the Month” could be described as a light-hearted, feel-good film about serial killing. Despite lacking on the gory side of horror and the hilarity of comedy, it does manage to mingle both genres timidly, in addition to revealing a brilliant star in Jasmina Douieb. Far from being a groundbreaking film in the ever-popular comedy horror subgenre and most likely a little forgettable, it nonetheless receives a score of 6/10.