In medical trials around 99% of the subjects suffer no actual side effects from the drugs that are pumped into them, but what about the other 1%? That’s what The Facility takes as its core idea and although it’s not a true story, it is presented as if it’s a reconstruction of an actual event.
This is an area which horror has largely stayed away from but the pharmaceutical industry is presumably ripe for exploitation. The trouble with The Facility is writer and director Ian Clark forgets some essential elements required for this kind of story which render it fairly ineffective.
We start with several members of the public making their way to a building in the middle of nowhere (or the British countryside). We get to know the bare minimum about Joni (temp worker), Morty (unemployed professional guinea pig), Jed (alpha male estate agent), Arif (shy and troubled), Katie (journalist), Carmen (airhead) and Adam (I forgot). They are told they will be staying at the centre for two weeks with no access to the outside world and some strict rules as far as diet and excitement go.
With very unfussy and flat camerawork, we potter around the facility with the group as they flirt, play pool and chat. It’s like being in a reconstruction of events in the Big Brother house. Then things start to go awry as unpredictably the ones whom you thought might have been the surviving leads start to go crazy. One by one the test subjects start to violently pull their own hair out and attack their fellow inmates. People are killed and there is no escape and the ones who are left have to band together and watch each other for signs of the mania that has afflicted them all.
The story is a little bit 28 Days Later, a little bit The Thing but lacks any of the tension or build up that made those films so special. The film in general seems in a bit of a rush to get where it’s going. There is one effective tracking shot where you see something in the background and then that is it as far as building a sense of dread goes. I could be wrong but it seemed as if it was the very first night when everyone went crazy and went on a rampage. You don’t really care for any of the characters therefore because it just feels like the random wannabes that go into Big Brother except here it’s for the money instead of fame.
We just don’t spend long enough with these people and know nothing of their hopes, dreams and desires. Only really Steve Evets as Morty strikes anything resembling a realistic chord. The character seems very real and very bitter from years of going through this and feels like a familiar person you encounter every day. The attention seems to linger on Aneurin Barnard as Adam though who barely registers as a presence and has no character to speak of. You watch him going from one situation to the next and never feel anything but mild amusement.
There are one or two nice set pieces with some well-orchestrated jump scares and some relatively nasty scenes which mean The Facility isn’t a total waste of time. If you are just looking for a diverting British film which provides an hour and a bit of entertainment then you could do worse. You can’t help wondering though what The Facility could have been with some more thought and imagination.
Extras: There is the effective teaser and trailer and a twenty or so minute long making of. The making of reveals a lot of the problems with the film as the makers fresh out of film school , seem to believe they have provided enough character development and realism and that the premise will carry them through. Interestingly enough though we do learn that each characters make up when they go bug nuts is very much meant to reflect their personality type (flappy scalp, big head etc.). If only as much attention had gone into the script then we would be on to a winner. A lot of interviews with the characters in full make-up are fairly bizarre. I bet there were some deleted scenes somewhere but they are not here….