Capsule/Summary **The Factory is a spin on the recently popular dungeon horror sub-genre that does not exactlly rise above other recent exploitation or police procedural films but is saved from total train wreck status by an above average cast and a novel plot twist or two. The film was produced under the now unwinding Dark Castle/Warner Bros. relationship and held in release limbo for four years before finally receiving this barebones SD DVD release. The tricky cinematography is handled well by the SD encoding except for a few specific shots/scenes that exhibit some mild artifacts. The 5.1 audio mix exhibits good fidelity and becomes impressively immersive during the film’s horror and action set-pieces. On-disc extras are non-existent, and the disc is bundled with a code to unlock an Ultraviolet Digital Copy.
Directed by: Morgan O’Neill
Starring: John Cusack, Jennifer Carpenter, Dallas Roberts, Mae Whitman
| Studio: Warner Bros. |
Film Length: 104 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date: February 19th, 2012
The Film **The Factory stars John Cusack as Buffalo, New York Police Detective Mike Fletcher. Fletcher, along with his partner Kelsey Walker (Carpenter) have been obsessively trying to find the abductor responsible for a series of missing persons over the course of the past three winters with little success. Due to the lack of any solid leads and the fact that most of the victims are prostitutes and drug addicts with no family demanding resolution, their superiors are pressing them to shift their attention to other cases. This ceases to be an option for Mike when the latest victim proves to be his rebellious teenage daughter, Abby (Whitman). As Mike pursues the investigation with reckless abandon, Abby gets a disturbingly first hand view of deranged kidnapper Gary (Roberts), what exactly he is doing with his victims, and why no bodies have been turning up in her father’s investigation.
Produced in 2008 in the wake of the success of the Saw films and shelved by Warner Bros. until now, The Factory attempts to put a novel spin on the dungeon horror concept, but mostly plays as a variation on an unpleasantly familiar theme. The film earns its exploitation stripes by spending a lot of time wallowing with its chief antagonist in psychological and physical abuse of women and by kicking things off with a stereotypical murder of a character when she is revealed to be a tranvestite prostitute. Viewers with no stomach for such stuff are advised to steer clear. (Sadly, internet reviewers with disdain for such stuff are not afforded this luxury.)
The primary cast of John Cusack, Jennifer Carpenter, Dallas Roberts, and Mae Whitman are above average for such projects. Unfortunately, Cusack and Carpenter are saddled with dialog that plays like a random collection of police procedural cliches with Cusack’s character coming across as a violently inclined Barney Fife until the film’s final act at which time he turns into Sherlock Holmes. Even when the audience learns how Dallas Roberts' Gary character has been duping the police and avoiding capture, it does not excuse the incompetence of Cusack’s ineffective detective. It is to Cusack’s credit as an actor that he manages to convey his terrible dialog and varying plot-dependent levels of intellect while still maintaining a modicum of viewer sympathy.
Without giving away any spoilers, the film is saved from the dreaded one star ranking by a plot revelation in its final reel that is insane enough to be entertaining and reasonably well set-up by the rest of the film. It may not hold up to a detailed analysis in the viewer's mind hours after seeing the film, but it at least provides a jolt of energy to what would otherwise be a depressing and dull viewing experience.
The film’s dark and murky cinematography is presented in 16:9 enhanced video letterboxed to its intended 2.4:1 aspect ratio. The atmospheric cinematography which spends a lot of time representing oppressive snowy winter night time exteriors, and artificially lighted basements and parking structures presents a challenge to the digital video compression algorithm, and there are a few stumbles. A few of the darkest scenes suffer from some minor contrast ghosting, and compression ringing makes a couple of the more detailed shots appear softer than they should. The majority of the film is solid, though, with a nice range of contrast and good shadow detail.
Audio****The one and only audio option is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The mix uses the 5.1 sound field effectively to immerse the viewer/listener in some of the film’s more harrowing or action oriented set-pieces, but is less atmospheric and ambitious most of the time. The track exhibits solid fidelity for a lossy encoding.
Extras ½When the disc is first played, the viewer is greeted with the following series of promos presented in 4:3 video with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound unless otherwise indicated:
- Ultraviolet digital copy promo (1:20)
- Beautiful Creatures Theatrical trailer (1:50 -16:9 video)
- Cloud Atlas Blu-ray/DVD Trailer (2:27)
- Argo Blu-ray/DVD Trailer (2:30)
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 DTV trailer (1:33)
- Warner Bros. 90th Anniversary Blu-ray and DVD Collections promo (2:13)
There are no on-disc special features accessible from the DVD Menu.
Ultraviolet Digital Copy The disc comes packaged with an access code for an Ultraviolet Digital Copy of the film. This allows users with a Flixster account to access a streaming version of the film on computers and certain tablets and mobile devices. It also allows viewers with Flixster desktop software to download a copy to their computer's hard drive. Additional viewing options are available from online services such as Vudu and CinemaNow which allow linking to Ultraviolet accounts.