- Written By: Morgan O'Neill, Paul Leyden
- Release Date: 2/19/2013
- Running Time: 108 minutes
- Directed By: Morgan O'Neill
- Starring: John Cusack, Jennifer Carpenter, Dallas Roberts, Mae Whitman, Sonya Walger, Mageina Tovah, Gary Anthony Williams, Katherine Waterston
THE FACTORY comes out on DVD and digital download on February 19th. Go to its FB page for more information.
If there’s one thing to be gleaned from THE FACTORY, it’s that Buffalo, NY is a shit storm with constant ice, snow, and a slew of hookers. Also, you can apparently drive like it’s FAST AND THE FURIOUS: BUFFALO BLIZZARD during such snowstorms, as long as you’re a cop on the trail of a serial killer.
And that describes detective Mike Fletcher, the typical obsessed cop
hot cold on the trail of a serial killer targeting hookers in the Buffalo metropolitan area. Because of lack of evidence, he is forced to shut down the investigation, much to his chagrin and that of his partner Debra Morgan Kelsey Walker (played by DEXTER’s Jennifer Carpenter), who shows far too much loyalty to a bad cop. While she always has his back, she’s always the one telling him to back down, relax and get some rest. Until the end, Jennifer Carpenter is understated and underutilized. I would say it was to the detriment of the movie because Carpenter is normally a magnetic screen presence, but once you see the whole film, you’ll know why I’m hesitant to admit such a thing.
It’s Thanksgiving, and Mike is also having troubles at home, in the form of a cliche, bitchy teenager, Abby (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and PARENTHOOD’s great Mae Whitman), who always whines about wanting to see her college age boyfriend Tad (don’t you already hate him?). I’m surprised it takes her as long as it does to leave the house and take matters into her own hands. Mike’s wife and Abby’s Mom, Shelley (LOST’s Sonya Walger), basically yells at her daughter and wishes that Mike would do something about it. Mike is too busy following the wrong leads and not making obvious conclusions. It’s as if the filmmakers wanted to make Gary (a creepy Dallas Roberts of THE WALKING DEAD and THE GOOD WIFE) seem so diabolical and smart that no one could find him, but it really just made the Buffalo PD look pathetic, because based on how Gary acted throughout the film, he wasn’t the most careful or smart or well planned of killers.
He is, however, a pretty great villain anyway. At first, he seems like just the run of the mill killer of hookers, when he picks one up on Turkey Day, and slices her up like a holiday bird. Then we find out that he reacts murderously because the hooker was a pre-op tranny, and how could he have a committed relationship with another man? Yupp, this man isn’t out to kill these women of the night, but to collect them and attempt to start families with them, in some terrifying basement baby factory.
The film takes the obvious and painful turn of having Mike’s daughter Abby be the next kidnap-ee, because she ran away to go see Tad. TAKEN this movie is not (Liam Neeson would’ve gotten her back in the next scene, whereas Cusack stumbles and breaks things in his “work” room). Once Abby is in the basement, and meets Brittany (the always eerie Mageina Tovah) and the pregnant Lauren (Katherin Waterston), her fellow captives, we learn more about the monster keeping them chained up (or “Daddy”) and THE FACTORY picks up (and Mae Whitman shines, as Abby stops being such a ninny). It’s a unique and interesting take, and gets high marks in terms of ugly revulsion and uncomfortable-ness, and there is definite rising tension setting up the showdown to come.
It’s hard to review this film and not talk about the requisite massive horror twist that seemingly every movie needs these days. If you half pay attention to the film, the twist might shock you, but it merely undermines the majority of the film preceding it, and, while clearly foreshadowed, it still makes little sense.
THE FACTORY has a fine and unnerving villain, a great cast, and most of the elements to be a solid horror film. That being said, the plodding execution leaves a lot to be desired and the twist is sure to turn most people off that were happy with the stereotypical ride up to that point.