FEARNET Movie Review: 'The Factory'


the factoryThere's more than enough about The Factory to make it seem at least slightly intriguing to fans of genre cinema: it stars John Cusack and Jennifer Carpenter as a pair of detectives who are in constant pursuit of a despicable serial killer; it has a subplot about a psycho who kidnaps and mistreats young women that feels like it was yanked right out of a particularly uncreative horror film; and it's been sitting on a shelf over at Warner Bros. for well over four years. Components like that will often pique the interest of the intrepid genre fan, and since I am absolutely one of those intrepid genre fans, you can trust me when I say that The Factory is composed of seven or eight other films you've already seen before. And not composed especially well.

The plot is something straight out of a two-hour TV movie that will never get picked up as a series: two Buffalo detectives are hot on the trail of a psycho who only strikes once in a while, but definitely has a pattern of sorts. (This lunatic likes young women. Big shock there.) Detective Fletcher (John Cusack) is a family man who is obsessed with nailing his suspect. Detective Walker (Jennifer Carpenter) is his tough-talking and staunchly loyal partner. Dallas Roberts plays the nutbag who preys on women and eventually kidnaps Fletcher's daughter, and hoo boy that's when the real detectin' takes over!

Written and directed in a staunchly perfunctory fashion by a pair of actors turned filmmakers, the flick never once delivers a plot point, a character motivation, or even a camera angle that hasn't been covered to death in everything from Silence of the Lambs to Seven and anything else related to "psycho detecting" you can possibly imagine. How three such interesting actors were drawn to such an anemic screenplay is anybody's guess; they're probably more dismayed than excited that The Factory is finally making its DVD debut. 

Little more than a bland stew of network TV procedurals, now-stale horror trappings that dip a toe into "torture" territory, and a snowy travelogue of Montreal, The Factory may not be as atrocious as its four-year delay might indicate (the leads are particularly good, for example, as is Dallas Roberts in a flatly-written psycho role) but unless you enjoy predicting every single plot point that a movie has to offer, right before it hits the screen, then you may find something comfortably amusing about the flick. As a fan of the three stars and any film that tries to combine a detective story with a horror tale, I certainly wasn't bored by The Factory, but I was frequently annoyed at how little creativity the screenplay has to offer. It's not enough to just re-organize 12 basic clichés, slap a title on it, and call it a movie.

Given the cast, the premise, and a few juicy moments of visceral horror, there's just enough here to fill a slightly enticing trailer. Unfortunately the movie as a whole should be considered a last-ditch resort if you're looking for a watchable movie about bland cops chasing an unoriginal psycho.