Factory, The (DVD)

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The Factory (DVD)Starring John Cusack, Jennifer Carpenter, Dallas Roberts, Mae Whitman

Directed by Morgan O’Neill

Distributed by Warner Home Video

After years of languishing on the shelf, Dark Castle’s John Cusack-starring thriller The Factory finally made its way onto DVD this past Tuesday (Feb. 19). Shot in 2009, due to be released in 2010, the movie seemed to simply disappear, even though it featured a strong cast and an intriguing premise (from the plot blurb anyway). So, now that it’s available to the public, the inevitable question – was the film worth the wait?

…no. Ohhh, no. Absolutely not.

The Factory concerns Mike Fletcher (Cusack) and Kelsey Walker (Carpenter), two detectives on the trail of a suspected murderer who has been abducting prostitutes throughout their not-so-fair city. The murderer, Gary Gemeaux (Roberts), has in fact not been killing his abductees (well, not all of them). Rather, he’s been keeping them chained up in his basement, impregnating each of them over and over and then collecting the children. Running a “baby factory” as it were. When Fletcher’s daughter, Abbie (Whitman), all-too-conveniently crosses Gemeaux’s path, she becomes the next victim to join his stable, forcing Fletcher to work outside the law he’s meant to uphold in order to rescue his own flesh and blood.

You’ve seen this movie before. Several times. Especially throughout the late 90s. And sadly, while the central idea is an undeniably disturbing and icky premise for a horror/thriller to employ, the movie that resulted from it never manages to be shocking, or thrilling, or anything more than a possible cure for that insomnia that’s been plaguing you.

Where did it go wrong? The film certainly has a strong cast. Cusack, even when finding himself in a not-so-great movie, will typically give a solid performance. Carpenter, so great in The Exorcism of Emily Rose and “Dexter”, is a more than capable actress. And Roberts, last seen as The Governor’s right-hand man in AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (and in Joe Carnahan’s superb The Grey), has always put in top-notch work in the projects he’s appeared in. So why is it then that everyone appears as though they might fall asleep at any moment when onscreen? Cusack, when he’s not blustering about in an entirely unconvincing manner, simply appears…tired. Not conveying his character’s exhaustion, mind you – it genuinely seems as though he doesn’t want to be in the film for most of its running time. Carpenter comes off as entirely uninterested as well, while Roberts tries to stay awake by hamming it up a little too much with his villainy and inauthentic cracker accent.

Perhaps the blame for the film’s failure and the actors’ indifference lies with the film’s script. Again, it’s a hackneyed procedural that’s loaded with convenient plot developments, cardboard thin characters, and a twist that’s as ridiculous as it is predictable (you’ll see it coming from the first few minutes). On top of that, there’s no decent motivation given for Gemeaux’s activities. Oh, I know the ending is meant to explain just what in the hell he was doing, but a few pointed questions (the type that should’ve been asked at, y’know, the scripting stage) will easily unravel what’s meant to be a surprising denouement, rather than the headslapper it actually is.

A pity, as the film could’ve been a fun little B-movie. Again, the cast is capable of good work when they’re engaged. And Kramer Morgenthau’s photography is actually quite beautiful at times, while Mark Isham’s score belongs in a better film. But the lame script, coupled with direction that lacks any sort of energy, makes sure that the film never had a chance at being even remotely interesting or entertaining.

Warner did right by dumping it directly into bargain bins (you can find it for less than ten bucks at some stores). It’s been given a DVD-only release, and a bare bones one at that. No bonus features whatsoever. And, really, that’s okay.

I’ve seen far worse than The Factory, folks, and that’s the highest praise I’m willing to give it. As it stands, it’s an overly familiar, listless thriller-without-thrills, full of bad writing and actors who know better. And as such, it isn’t worth your time.

Let’s hope Warner’s own factory rolls out a better thriller on the next round, eh?

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  • LSD Zombie

    John Cusack is one of the few actors who can keep me entertained even when he’s in a shitty movie. I may give this one a shot. Hard to believe it could be worse than The Raven.