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The Factory

2010 | 108 min | R | 2.39:1

The Factory


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The Factory Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, January 17, 2013

“The Factory” finally finds release after an extended period gathering dust on a shelf. Filmed in 2008, the production emerges from the wilted imagination of Dark Castle Productions, home base to such features as the ridiculous “Orphan” and “The Apparition,” one of 2012’s biggest box office bombs. “The Factory” is their worst effort to date, which I know isn’t much of a statement, but rarely has an exploitation thriller repulsed in a manner that seems entirely avoidable. Grotesquely misguided and conceived, “The Factory” asks viewers to sit patiently while all manner of ugliness is trotted out for the screen, chasing horror and procedural trends that are wildly out of date in 2013. However, its considerable age doesn’t excuse its carelessness and ugliness, which would’ve registered just as numbingly five years ago.

A serial killer is loose in Buffalo, New York, targeting young prostitutes with nowhere to hide. His name is Gary (Dallas Roberts), a catering cook fostering an obsession with family, utilizing his basement to impregnate and brainwash his captives, using the offspring to feed his delusions. Detective Mike Fletcher (John Cusack) has been working the case for years now, studying the missing women without a breakthrough, frustrating his partner, Kelsey (Jennifer Carpenter). Dealing with a troubled family life with high-maintenance teen daughter Abby (Mae Whitman), Mike is lost in his investigation, unaware that his girl is dealing with a few personal issues she’s afraid to address. When Gary mistakes Abby for a hooker and kidnaps her, the ensuing missing persons search brings Mike to the edge, obsessively working the clues to rescue his child, which eventually finds him tossed off the case. For Abby, the nightmare begins in Gary’s dungeon, finding herself chained up and surrounded by the madman’s pregnant harem, forced to join this wretched “family.”

When “The Factory” was originally shot in 2008, there were only four installments of “Saw,” with Hollywood feverishly producing sadistic horror pictures that highlighted the suffering of innocents for the delight of ticket buyers. The time frame is important to establish when discussing “The Factory,” as much of it resembles a lost “Saw” sequel, only instead of dismal production value, this feature looks relatively slick, set during a perpetual snowstorm in the freezing cold. And in place of metal traps, there are scenes of serial killer torment and rape, while pregnant women are tossed around like basketballs. In fact, the screenplay (credited to director Morgan O’Neill and Paul A. Leyden) kicks off an unbearably ugly note that finds Gary pinning a transgender prostitute to the wall using a fireplace poker (a vile act perfectly open to suggestion, yet O’Neill details it in full), lost in a rage after realizing his latest streetwalker acquisition isn’t capable of producing offspring. And that’s just the first five minutes of the movie.

It’s difficult to suppress a horrified reaction to “The Factory,” especially when it seems so determined to make all its female characters suffer, lingering on shots of agony. There’s even a creepy aside where Mike visits a jailbait prostitute as an undercover john, hoping to question the girl about her situation. Instead of an immediate interrogation, we’re treated to a lingering striptease and some of the worst police work I’ve seen on film. Good to know the easily located abused and exploited women of Buffalo have no advocate in the police department. Why help hundreds desperately in need of liberation and rehabilitation when a single whiny, dim-witted teen girl is in danger? “The Factory” plays it relentlessly rough and sleazy, requiring a shower after viewing just to get O’Neill’s hatred of women scrubbed off in full. The man’s appetite in performances is also ridiculous, with Roberts delivering stridently over-the-top work as killer Gary, seemingly fresh from paging through his “Screen Serial Killing for Dummies” guidebook. He’s awful here, making an already uncomfortable movie all the more painful to sit through.

Clues are pieced together, chases ensue, and Mike trashes his office in primo melodramatic style to burn off his rage. And then there’s a twist ending that turns “The Factory” from abysmal into an absolute joke, even opening a window for a sequel that will never see the light of day. Besides being nonsensical, the climax explores repellent scripting to a greater degree, threatening the viewer with the promise of a basement C-section performed by a rusty scalpel. Yikes. Aiming for a grim tone of genre escapism, “The Factory” drowns in poor taste and dismal logic, pushing anger and unnerving personal issues on people just looking to be entertained.

Starring: John Cusack, Dallas Roberts, Jennifer Carpenter, Mae Whitman, Ksenia Solo, Cindy Sampson
Director: Morgan O'Neill

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