Eight volunteers find themselves fighting for their lives when a drug trial goes horribly wrong.
Whilst The Facility (previously known as ‘Guinea Pigs’) does have the trappings of a traditional, bog-standard horror film, it does have a psychological and subtle side to it too. Yes, the movie actually starts with a telling of the rules, which closely relates to the horror genre as a whole (no sex, booze or fags allowed). Yes, there is bloody violence. Yes, one by one the characters get picked off by their foe. Yes, the pretty blonde girl gets naked. And yes, the characters make a collection of silly, unbelievable mistakes. But the film as a whole has an almost pseudo-documentary feel to it, with minimal music, informational text regarding the names, occupations and ages of all of the ‘guinea pigs’ and a lot of single, handheld camerawork. This adds to the realism of The Facility, thus making it all the more scarier, and it is definitely a nice break from the overly theatrical horrors which seem so popular at the moment. Although unfortunately, the strong start of The Facility soon leads to just that – a boring, bloody slasher.
Editor’s note: ALERT – SPOILERS AHEAD!
This UK film fits in nicely with today’s culture and the fact that pharmaceuticals are becoming ever more popular at solving our psychological problems. Naturally, us Brits are more wary about popping pills for any old reason than our American companions, which is why The Facility works so well at triggering this modern dread inside of us as the film features a bunch of strangers who all agree to take part in a drug deal, without even being told what the side effects might be. We don’t know what half of the chemicals are that we put into our bodies and similarly, most people have a growing distrust for the government and what ghastly deeds they might be up to behind closed doors – such as covertly producing a horrific, violence-inducing drug perhaps? This bears a little resemblance to the themes that were explored in The Crazies, as both films turned unsuspecting people into violent psychopaths through the use of unknown, man-made substances.
I initially found the storyline to be an interesting one, having in mind other hospital classics such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Girl Interrupted or The Ward, but The Facility didn’t play out like I thought it would. For this reason, I was a little disappointed because the director Ian Clark seemed to take a perfectly decent ‘psychological’ horror film and try to turn it into the slasher film that we’ve all seen a hundred times before. The Facility started strong but as soon as the first patient turned psycho, this set the tone for the rest of the film and it never really recovered. The overall theme of The Facility is probably more closely related to recent thriller Side Effects with its condemnation of the drugs market and how it can negatively affect people. However, Side Effects did not choose to stray down the ridiculous ‘17-hour serial killer’ route, which, in my opinion, made it a much more effective film.
On the plus side, I think that they used just the right amount of characters so as not to overwhelm the audience with too much information. And, in a rare stroke of luck – all of the characters looked completely different, thus easily allowing viewers to distinguish between them from the very start (this has always been a bug-bear of mine!). However, the decisions that these characters made throughout the film were pretty nonsensical at times, and make it disappointing to watch. Once it became clear that the staff had all been killed and that there was a man going on a murderous rampage, the choice to remain inside the facility is totally farcical, especially for those that later discovered that they’d had a placebo. I was sort of reminded of basic zombie films at times due to the fact that each character would slowly ‘turn’ into an uncontrollable rage ‘machine’ due to the effects of the drug, and I wonder why more action wasn’t taken, as opposed to standing there discussing their inevitable fate. At the other extreme, one of the characters appeared to have much more chemical and drug knowledge than seems possible for a random Joe Bloggs.
Whilst the ending was partly interesting, due to the reveal that the effects of these drugs were only temporary, it still felt a bit flat and cold to me. All we get to satisfy us is a few lines of white writing explaining about the implications of the events we just witnessed. None of which were that groundbreaking, and this certainly didn’t seem in keeping with the emotional, dramatic tone of the rest of the film. However, despite this disappointing ending and the direction that the film took being completely the wrong move (at least as the main plot-point), The Facility was well shot, well acted and well edited. But it is such a shame when the story lets a good project down.
An interesting point to end on is that Sci-Fi London ran a competition to create a trailer for The Facility, in which the winner’s entry would be played at the BFI (British Film Institute) with director Ian Clark in attendance. I thought that this was a pretty cool promotional device to make the movie more ‘interactive’ for young, modern audiences. It reminded me a little of a similar campaign from The Tracey Fragments where the director released all of the original footage online and encouraged people to re-edit the footage into whatever they saw fit.
The Facility (2012)