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John Cusack (also in THE PAPERBOY, one of my favorite films
of the year) and Jennifer Carpenter (ever the scene-stealer in Showtime’s
DEXTER) star in THE FACTORY, a semi-horror movie made under producer Joel
Silver’s Dark Castle banner. A SILENCE OF THE LAMBS-meets-HARDCORE-wannabe
thriller tinged with blood, it follows an obsessed father on the hunt for his
missing teenage daughter.
THE FACTORY, filmed way back in 2008, is
actor-turned-director Morgan O’Neill’s sophomore effort behind the camera, and
while I can’t say whether it’s a slump (I haven’t see his first film, SOLO,
whose script won the 2005 Project Greenlight Australia competition), it’s not
altogether bad. Set adrift in the purgatory of film festivals (it recently had
its U.S. premiere at LA’s Screamfest) and drib-drab theatrical releases
internationally, it hasn’t yet secured a definitive Stateside release date.
Cusack plays Mike Fletcher, a taciturn, tenacious New York
homicide cop who, along with his partner Kelsey (Carpenter) is on the hunt for
a serial killer targeting Buffalo’s working girls. When Fletcher’s daughter
Abby (Mae Whitman) goes missing, it transpires that she’s been mistaken for a
hooker (nice parenting there, detective) and is in the lethal hands of the
city’s most wanted, and Fletcher casts all caution aside and breaks every rule
in the book to find Abby before it’s too late.
At first, the horror is presented as a mystery—the predator
(the always excellent Dallas Roberts) is collecting these women for something,
presumably to kill them—and we see the victims chained up in a basement,
plotting their escape while the detectives search on the surface. Fletcher in
particular, of course, is the most determined, and while the interrogation
scenes have intense possibilities, Cusack just doesn’t sell them. The device of
a ticking time bomb (we are reminded several times of the 48-hour rule in
crime-solving) makes for a decent level of suspense, and the gritty, dank
visuals, from muddy locations to dark cellar sets, give the film a skeevy feel.
But THE FACTORY is cobbled together from parts of too many other gory,
salacious thrillers, from the two mentioned above to such numerically titled
films as SE7EN and JENNIFER 8, not to mention weekly crime shows like CRIMINAL
MINDS. The result is that THE FACTORY feels as if it’s fresh off an assembly
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