It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many horror films I have watched (and we’re talking a fair few here), something always appears which manages to shock me – though not always in the way intended. It increasingly seems that new films which fall with the remit of the horror genre are frequently nothing more than an excuse to chop and hack the hapless cast up in semi darkness with no real reason for the grisly goings-on or than an excuse to show ever more gratuitous and gory visuals. The Facility, the new British (supposed) chiller from director / writer Ian Clark, is a clinical attempt to extract fresh scares from the age old medical experiment premise, which fails due to it having about as much life as a stone cold cadaver at the local morgue.
Seven disparate volunteers, including three students Carmen (Skye Lourie), Arif (Amit Shah) and Adam (Aneurin Barnard), office temp Joni (Alex Reid), journalist Katie (Nia Roberts), obnoxious estate agent Jed (Oliver Coleman) and unemployed Morty (Steve Evets), agree to partake in tests of a new drug called Pro9 for a substantial fee of £2,000 each. However, following their arrival at the remote and sinister Limebrook Medical Clinic deep in the English countryside, the group begin to have their misgivings about what they have agreed to take on. Particularly as, after they have been administered a dose of Pro9 and retired for the night, the effects of the drug begin to take hold with devastating results.
Where do you start when talking about a film which has so little in its favour. It’s not that The Facility is intrinsically bad. Indeed, if dissected, the film has some promising qualities which under different circumstances may have made for a reasonably taught made for television thriller. The medical centre from which the film takes its title is an atmospheric amalgamation of spartan hospital rooms interconnected by neon lit corridors, separated from the outside world by glass and chrome reception areas and set within landscaped grounds manicured to within an inch of their lives. This part of the film is its most promising aspect, reminiscent of the setting for director Michael Crichton’s far superior visualisation of author Robin Cook’s hospital mystery Coma (1978). The Facility‘s cast, consisting of a host of up-and-coming young British stars including Alex Reid (TV’s Misfits (2009 – )) and Barnard (We’ll Take Manhattan (2012)) are also accomplished, as far as the limiting storyline and script allow for.
And herein lies The Facility‘s fundamental problem. There is, if truth be told, not much of a story. The main action, what there is of it, consists of the various characters succumbing one by one to the effects of the drug which they are being used to test, resulting in a limited sense of excitement or tension. Once you’ve seen one homicidal maniac frothing at the mouth and lurching from the shadows beneath a shrouded operating table, you’ve seen them all. By the end of the film you know not much more about the individuals you’ve been watching than you did at the start, resulting in the viewer caring very little about what happens to the unfortunate victims of the mysterious experiment. There is also no real explanation either as to what the said drug really is, leaving a perplexing sense of dissatisfaction and unanswered questions.
I personally love horror films and, when done properly, they can be stimulating, thought provoking and genuinely unsettling. However when, like The Facility, they are lacklustre and unoriginal, they can also be amongst the most disappointing examples of the cinematic art.
Director/Writer: Ian Clark
Stars: Alex Reid, Aneurin Barnard, Chris Larkin