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British Film Review :The Facility
Film Review By Joel Frosh
Low budget horror is extremely difficult to pull off. Although the found-footage subgenre opened up possibilities for first time filmmakers from the late nineties, the audience has grown too used to the gimmick and it is now time to find something new. Horror, as with comedy, is a genre that really needs fresh ideas if it is going to make a real impact. Unfortunately, The Facility doesn’t have one.
The Facility is about seven volunteers who agree to act as human guinea pigs, spending two weeks in isolation to test an experimental new drug known as Pro9. However, we soon discover that this drug has lethal effects.
The first point that should be made is that the film’s description of itself as a ‘Cronenbergian body-horror’ is purely for promotional purposes. I’m sure director Ian Clark likes the body horror films of David Cronenberg, but very little of this influence can be seen here. So getting that out of the way it is time to consider the film on its own terms.
The Facility isn’t awful. Despite its low budget it never looks cheap and although the gory parts don’t stay on screen for very long, they are still effective. The main problem with the film is that it isn’t quite sure what it is. It’s a bit like a found footage film or a pseudo-documentary, with the use of a hand-held camera, CCTV footage and text at the beginning and end that tries to make it seem realistic. But it seems that the filmmakers are aware that found-footage films are getting a little old and have therefore used more standard filmmaking techniques with the dialogue and characters who are unaware of the camera. The problem with this is that the film sets itself up as realistic but then is unconvincing.
The characters are two-dimensional clichés taken from other horror films. The slimy sex-obsessed alpha-male, the cutthroat journalist, the slightly creepy bearded older man and the cheeky teenage-blonde have just been seen too many times before. The rest of the main cast have very little personality at all. From the start it is completely obvious who is going to die first and it is hard to care whether any of the characters come out of it alive. The performances are mixed: the more experienced actors such as Steve Evets (Looking For Eric) make the film work, but there are also some who display the kind of acting reminiscent of a student film. The script is a mix as well; it starts out well with a few funny lines - one in particular I liked was a seedy metaphor about Eskimos (there’s some originality!). However, in other places there was the usual horror dialogue, the frightened “what just happened?” type thing.
Overall The Facility is an amateurish instance of your usual claustrophobic, impending doom horror film that was always destined to go straight to DVD. However, there are glimpses of talent in Ian Clark’s direction and it will be interesting to see what he can do with a bigger budget and a more interesting story. This is a horror that does everything you expect, which isn’t the worst thing in the world; it would just be nice to see something a little more surprising.
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