Friday, December 28, 2012

The Cinema File #72: "The Factory" Review

As if The Raven wasn't enough to dissuade me from the notion that John Cusack in a movie is an indication that it might actually be good...

The Factory is a crime thriller following an obsessed detective on the trail of a prostitute hunting serial killer, and if that bland synopsis didn't clue you in, I assure you, this is all stuff you've seen many times before. Though the film starts off somewhat strong and ends with a twist that might just be enough to push it over into watchable, the vast middle of the movie is just so formulaic and uninteresting that I found myself wishing I'd put in the SyFy Channel zombie movie with Levar Burton I still have in my queue instead. With the exception of the howdeketchem framework eschewing any mystery element, it feels like an extended episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, which fits it into a genre I like enough to stick with it, but not enough to be all that excited about it.

Much like with The Raven, I liked John Cusack despite how boring his character was, and Jennifer Carpenter basically plays a less foul mouthed version of her character on Dexter, but I like that character, so it works as far as it goes. I'm a little ambivalent on the bad guy. On the one hand, I like that they didn't make him too intelligent, as these movies tend to do to make the cat and mouse game seem more sophisticated, but that also has the draw back of making him much less interesting as a villain. I found myself much more creeped out by the victims in this movie, all but one of whom have developed Stockholm Syndrome and basically worship their rapist. The first scene where this concept is fully realized seems like a grab bag of various elements designed to make the bad guy more disturbing, from sing song mantras spouted by the brainwashed victims to old timey cartoons displayed on the wall. By the end, it almost seems like a metaphor for the whole movie, just throwing in whatever we can think of from other movies to make it more unnerving without any rhyme or reason.

I can't talk about The Factory without talking about the ending, which I'm kind of ashamed to say surprised me. This probably sounds like a lame rationalization, but I think I might have guessed it had the rest of the movie been a little smarter and more engaging, as I wonder if I was just stupified by the whole plodding affair and caught flatfooted. To the film's credit, it is set up well enough, as it proudly shows off through a probably too long series of flashbacks detailing every hint given up until the final reveal. I have a feeling it will be very polarizing for people, but personally I loved it, though I could possibly be overestimating its impact due to how dreary the rest of the film is by comparison. It can and will be argued that it doesn't exactly fit the tone of the movie, but then again, given that said tone is "really shitty movie," I'll take it. For what its worth, its done well and they go all the way with it, instead of pulling it back at the last minute for a happier ending as many other movies would.

The Factory is bookended well, and I'm tempted to say go for it just on the strength of the ending alone, but honestly, you have to be a pretty big fan of this genre to have the patience to sit through everything else. The few bright spots do not do much to mitigate the fact that huge swaths of the movie are simply not innovative or fun to watch in any way. Depending on your tastes, if Cusack's two hour stint on SVU is enough for an enjoyable night, then you'll likely have at least a little fun with it. Otherwise, best to stay away.

Oh yeah, and once again, the best part of the movie involves a severed penis. How is it that I managed to find two movies where I could say that?

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