Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Claudia Vargas, Noah Todd, Michelle Mousel, Shane Dean
Directed by Sean Tretta
Let me preface this review upfront by stating I’m really the wrong person to be reviewing this movie. I never saw the first Death Factory from 2002. Nor have I seen either of the director’s previous two films: The Great American Snuff Film and Death of a Ghost Hunter. I’m not entirely sure how or why I ended up with this screener in the mail. Also, I don’t really go for the ultra low budget gorehound-skewered horror films in general – not my cup of tea to begin with and also because so few of those films have anything going for them aside from the gore.
But that said, I am the one that got sent the screener for Death Factory: Bloodletting and I was willing to give it a fair-minded look. The day I chose to do so only seemed appropriate anyway as I began the day with a little bloodletting of my own: a trip to the doctor’s office to have an ingrown hair on my thigh lanced. You’d be amazed how much blood can come out of such a tiny wound. That experience was not particularly traumatic yet still a bit more unsettling than anything I saw in this film. That’s not a good sign when the movie you’re watching is all about trying to be unsettling.
Think a Saw sequel along the lines of parts 2 & 5, the sequels with a small group gathered together to be tormented and killed, only the various traps have been replaced by a flesh-eating mutant and the “Jigsaw” behind it all is less interested in rehabilitation as he is in condemning sinners. The potential victims are all scum of the earth types: a neo-Nazi smut peddler, a kiddie porn site operator, a slave-trading pimp, S&M fetishists, a bomb-making anarchist, and a humanity-hating hooker. All of them come across as caricatures a bit too broad to be credible with the exception of the kiddie porn guy, played with an unsettling quiet intensity.
They have all gone to great lengths to get invited to a “bloodletting”, an underground snuff ceremony where they will watch an innocent person get slowly tortured and killed for the viewing pleasure of others. What they don’t expect upon arriving at the secret, secluded, abandoned factory location is that they’re going to be the real stars of the show.
Behind it all is a Charlie Manson look-a-like Jesus freak with a sister who is an even bigger freak. His little sister was the victim of some sort of scientific experiment gone wrong that transformed her into an animalistic cannibal mutant with razor teeth and a taste for human flesh. Big brother adorned his ferociously feral sibling in some skimpy black leather attire, outfitted her with finger razors, and lures the dregs of society looking to get their jollies watching another human beings suffer to their factory abode to institute a little divine justice and make sure his sister gets a square meal in the process.
Unbeknownst to all, one of the potential victims is actually a young woman looking for a little retribution of her own, her daughter having been murdered and a video posted online; she only knows that the person responsible will be at the bloodletting and she intends to do a little bloodletting of her own.
Though the premise initially holds promise, and the set-up introducing the scumbags had me a little intrigued, the filmmakers just don’t go anywhere with it outside of the tired formula of the genre. A movie like this needs the kind of tension-filled pacing that leaves you waiting for a moment to catch your breath. You’ll have plenty of time to catch your breath during the extended scenes of characters walking about the dank factory in search of a way out or another cast member. Pacing issues truly is the bane of modern microbudget genre filmmaking; I see this costly mistake made far too often. A well-paced beginning quickly devolves into little more than a plodding slasher flick that too often felt the need to kill time when it wasn’t actual killing time.
But for me, the biggest dealbreaker was almost everyone in the cast being such a downright reprehensible human being that I had no vested interest in any of them. I realize they’re supposed to be that way and for most this is meant to be them getting their well-deserved punishment; I still found myself unsure whether I should be cheering on their demise or feeling some degree of empathy for some of them. That’s due in great part to the wacko running the show also being an unlikeable abrasive loon (He’s no Jigsaw; that’s for certain) and his mutant sister is never portrayed as anything but his puppet killing machine. I never felt this guy really gave a damn about her well being outside of her being the instrument of his own twisted biblical vengeance. Even the revenge-seeking mother has so many personal flaws I couldn’t feel too sorry for her either. She’s not so much a horrible human being like the rest so much as a personal train wreck, and much like the guy in charge, her quest for vengeance also rang hollow in my mind.
As I watched these people getting slashed, stabbed, and in some cases, chewed, I just felt nothing, numb. Death Factory: Bloodletting didn’t appeal to me from a gorehound standpoint because, while I can appreciate a good bloody kill, there was nothing new, impressive, or inventive about the bloody kills here, and the deaths did absolutely nothing for me from a dramatic standpoint because I just didn’t care. A movie like this is all in the execution. Executions are all it’s really about. So if you don’t care one iota about the people getting executed…
I will say that for a movie that clearly wasn’t made for my personal tastes and didn’t try to do much to change my mind about this particular subgenre, though thankfully it was not the flatout torture porn I was initially dreading it would be, and pacing issues aside, director Sean Tretta does show some stylistic flourishes that leads me to think he could do something with better material that’s about more than just arterial sprayings set to the tune of death metal.
1 1/2 out of 5
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