The Factory Title

STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $28.98
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

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The Pitch

Hookers are disappearing off of the streets of Buffalo and only John Cusack gives a damn!

The Humans

Written and directed by Morgan O’Neill, starring John Cusack, Jennifer Carpenter, and Dallas Roberts.

The Nutshell

John Cusack plays a homicide detective in Buffalo, NY obsessed with a bunch of missing hookers. Since no bodies have turned up, the chief wants Cusack to focus on murder cases with actual corpses. But when his daughter goes missing, shit gets personal and Cusack goes rogue! And, unfortunately, the film goes completely off the rails in its third act.

The Lowdown

Cusack spends most of the film looking like he's about to snap.

Cusack spends most of the film looking like he’s about to snap.

The Factory has been shelved since 2011 until it was quietly released last month by Dark Castle. The film was written and directed by Project Greenlight alumni Morgan O’Neill, whose debut film Solo showed heaps of promise. This time around he’s crafted a tense thriller that starts off terrific then flies completely off the rails with its laughable climax. I’m all for ridiculous endings – I find them kinda admirable, as long as they make sense and earn their conclusion.

Hookers have been vanishing off the streets of Buffalo without a trace. Detective Mike Fletcher (John Cusack) and his partner Kelsey (Jennifer Carpenter) are the only two detectives still working the case and in true fictional homicide detective fashion, his obsession is taking a heavy toll on his family. While his teen daughter Abby (Mae Whitman) rages an all-out angst war at home, his wife Shelly (Sonya Walger) is left alone on the front lines. When Shelly refuses to let Abby go to her boyfriend’s house for Thanksgiving, she sneaks out of the house to meet him.

And this is what happens when you don't listen to your mother.

And this is what happens when you don’t listen to your mother.

Abby’s then abducted by a psychopath because that’s what happens when you don’t listen to your mother. The psycho, Gary (Dallas Roberts), has a lavish basement bunker where he’s keeping hookers he’s appropriated over the years. They call him “daddy” and he keeps them drugged and filled with his semen. Abby’s miniskirt and caked on makeup is why he mistakenly takesher for a streetwalker, but he’s a laid-back psycho so he keeps her anyway.

For the first 80 minutes or so, The Factory is pretty damn gripping and genuinely clever in parts. It’s got a great cast and builds up suspense with precision. And although the villain’s motive is kinda silly, it’s still presented in a convincing manner. But then the twist is thrown in our faces and everything goes to hell. The worst part is, there doesn’t even need to be an outrageous twist! Cusack could’ve persevered and gotten his man and the movie would’ve been fine. In fact, it would’ve made a great redemption story about an obsessed detective finally doing right by his family.

Instead, O’Neill attempts a Keyser Soze and terribly fumbles. It’s easy to throw curveballs at an audience, but if it’s unnecessary and isn’t earned, then it’s essentially like flushing the rest of the film down the toilet. That’s exactly what O’Neill does here. Then he pours salt on the wound with a smug epilogue that further cements The Factory in its mediocrity.

Dallas Roberts plays a great creep.

Dallas Roberts plays a great creep.

At least for a DTV movie, it’s pretty damn polished. It features a great cast and the moody atmosphere is consistently sharp. I even enjoyed Jennifer Carpenter, who I absolutely cannot stand on Dexter. Her and Cusack make an enjoyable pair. Dallas Roberts (The Grey) is a stellar creep as Gary. His best scenes are when he’s playing house with the hookers. Most of the film takes place during snowy nights in Buffalo, when grim shadows and dark corners abound. Seriously, this is a slick-looking film.

Cusack is great, as always. He plays Detective Mike with a fragile reserve, always on the brink of losing his mind. Like I mentioned earlier, I cannot stand Jennifer Carpenter as Deb on Dexter. It’s not due to her acting skills, more because the character of Deb is awful. She’s like a bad parody of foul-mouthed tomboy. Anyways, Carpenter is fine here and her and Cusack have nice chemistry. I just wish they had better material to work with in the end.

Give this film a shot if it’s a rainy Sunday and you find yourself in front of a Red Box. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you about the dumb ending.

The Package

No special features.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars