5.5 out of 10

Release Date: 14th May 2013 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Ian Clark

Cast: Alex Reid, Aneurin Barnard, Steve Evets, Nia Roberts, Amit Shah, Skye Lourie, Oliver Coleman, Chris Larkin, Emily Butterfield and Jack Doolan

Writer:  Ian Clark


To be proofread: The Facility is a slightly above average Brit-chiller. It’s primarily elevated by its well thought out script. The good acting bolsts it further and whilst the characterisation is a bit cliched in this situation it’s probably forgivable because in real life people do adopt stereotypes / archtypes like the one on show here.  The Facility tells the story of seven medical guinea pigs who roll up the said facility for a trial. Some are in it for the first time and others are seasoned pros.  They are made up of: mad northerner, tough but sexy girl, sexy male student, disposable blonde girl, cynical business lady, nerdy Asian guy and bullish, sexist estate agent type guy.  At first the medical trial goes to plan and the test subjects are sent to bed, only one of them (not hard to guess) starts to have extremely adverse reactions to the drug.  Mad subject goes on a rampage and they see a nurse flee for her life across the car park below…. then a second subject beings to act weirdly.

So The Facility begins as a countdown. We see each of the group take it in turn to get injected so the order of their response to the drug is easy to predict. But there’s also the question of a placebo?  Who’s gotten off lightly and who will have to fight their way out? Also how long will the effects last, will it lock the sufferers into a permanent state, is the transformation part of the test?

Only a few of these questions get answered and for the most part its an intriguing and gripping little horror film. The set-up is well measured and the execution of the later action/horror sequences are effective. So all in all its an involving horror film – so why does it get the slender 5.5 out of 10?  Inspite of a bleak ending the filmmakers choose to ditch the film mid-air with a cue card telling you what happened next. This works in some stories but no there. The Facility is constantly boiling to a head but the makers have refused to let it explode.  In an action film, this kind of ending is inexcusable. Somehow they pulled a similar thing off in “F” but there was no “This happened next….” cue card. “F” was left open to leave the viewer to their own devices. In The Facility – the conclusion has been hastily scribbled down into paragraph and put on screen to piss the viewer off.   A real climax would have been an apt pay off – and if The Facility was a poorer movie I would have welcomed the reprieve, as it is we’re left in disappointment by a good,solid horror entertainer that just drives you into the wilderness, scares the shit out of you and then leaves you a note saying “by the way – that was the end!” before tip-toeing back to the car to leave you alone.

5.5 out of 10 – A great horror – let down by a howler of a decision to finish the movie off with a cue card. Good acting and nice script elevate this above the norm. At least I’ve warned you now. Maybe you’ll enjoy it more because you know what to expect come boiling point.



One thought on “THE FACILITY

  1. THE FACILITY by Joe Pesci II

    A medical trial goes wrong! Fertile hunting ground for an imaginative and thoughtful horror film you might think. You wouldn’t be wrong, but that’s not what we get with THE FACILITY. Instead we get a pleasant enough, short, reasonably entertaining shocker, enough to worry you that you’ve left the fridge open maybe, but that’s about all.

    There’s not much wrong with THE FACILITY. A bunch of guinea pigs (human ones) go off to the titular facility to have a new pharmaceutical tested on them and it all goes horribly, horribly wrong, and death, destruction and arguments about sleeping arrangements follow. See, a short synopsis for a short film.

    I guess this is one of those films which is more by way of being a calling card than a film any ordinary film-goer is likely to see, which is a bit of a shame, because on its own terms, and within a very restricted frame of reference, it’s a decent film, certainly compared to MAY I KILL YOU? and DERANGED. (Alas, I suspect that, although infinitely better than those two examples, it will prove to be less memorable.) But really it just exists to show that those involved can make a film like this.

    Our seven patients arrive one by one, and we are introduced to them in the style of a documentary (there are a lot of on-screen captions, like in The X Files). The first sign of trouble is Oliver Coleman. He plays an estate agent who is smarmy, full of himself and an idiot. The only surprise is that he isn’t played by Michael Jobson. By and large the film just about steers clear of stereotypes. Or does it? Amit Shah is good as a nervous student, and here’s lovely Alex Reid looking all vulnerable as a professional guinea pig. / hippy. And there’s Steve Evets as an unemployed version of Billy Connolly. Nia Roberts is the suspicious undercover reporter, and Aneurin Barnard is the dull but decent lead. And there’s Skye Lourie as the blonde one (and yes, they somehow manage to de-clothe her). OK, THE FACILITY embraces stereotypes, but it isn’t enslaved by them, and it manages to steer clear of predictability.

    Or does it? In the middle of the night the drug turns out to be really quite bad, and the patients start to rampage. Smarmy estate agent is the first to go, and it’s soon a matter ofkill or be killed, or find a really clever hiding place. OK, THE FACILITY is quite predictable.

    And, OK, it’s not very scary, though it has a few moments. There’s good use of lighting and sound to enhance the isolation, and the exact nature of the drug (and its effects) are never made clear, so you have to stay alert.

    The big fault with THE FACILITY is that it’s one of those ‘so what?’ films. The drug is bad! Mayhem ensues! So what? After all, it’s not a real drug. Maybe the effects are interesting? Everyone goes loopy and violent and their faces puff up and some of them try to remove their own heads. Well, that could be quite interesting. The only real question that might have been genuinely interesting is one that the film doesn’t ask. And that is: is what we’re seeing just a cock-up? Or are these side-effects precisely the thing that the evil company wants to look at? This is hinted at by the reaction of one character but isn’t followed through.

    And although I quite like some of the ending, some of it just seems noncommittal, and the captions (always captions!) which tell us what happened afterwards, are unclear. We are told how many deaths occurred, but that doesn’t seem to tally with what we see. Which of the seemingly dead characters recovered? We never find out. And no-one from the company got into trouble and that they managed to sweep it all under the carpet. So we should be angry. But why should we be angry about something that didn’t happen?

    And the film is set up as a documentary, which is all fine and dandy, but it is to no real purpose. Eschewing the clichés of found-footage is a good move, but apart from putting up frequent captions, it doesn’t add much. (And as the film is trying to say ‘this happened but nothing was done about it’ you do wonder why they’re pretending to make it in a documentary style.)

    There’s a lot of good work going on in the cast, especially those playing the facility staff, but no-one is particularly stretched. Steve Evets is sardonic and angry, Aneurin Barnard is wide eyed, Alex Reid is normal (which is harder to do than it sounds), Nia Roberts is feisty, and so on. But I’ve already mentioned the film’s stereotype embracing.

    This is a perfectly adequate exercise in film-making. If you rarely watch horrors, then I imagine this would work quite effectively for you. If you’re used to the genre it’s one that is easy to pick holes in, but it certainly doesn’t disgrace itself. It lacks ambition though. It might, for example, have been an idea to actually take on a real example of a clinical trial going wrong (there was one a few years ago where the volunteers got cancer and died), or to have a go at a fully fledged conspiracy theory movie. As it is THE FACILITY is moderately scary, moderately thoughtful, reasonably well made, nicely acted, fairly well thought out, and somehow polite. Yes, it’s a polite horror film, strangely English. It should be a cautionary tale, one which spreads terror and paranoia, which should make us quake with fear next time we enter a hospital, or even just volunteer for something. But instead it just sort of taps you on your shoulder, say ‘excuse me I intend unsettling you in a little while’ and gets on with it without fuss, comment or leaving any imprint on your memory. Maybe that’s the scary thing?

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