Retro Review: THE FACILITY (2012){0}

As is often the case with interesting indie horror films, The Facility proves that you don’t need much to deliver something worthwhile. Here we have a straightforward story that offers A) a simple premise, B) an effective location, and C) a handful of characters worth watching for 90 minutes. The Facility never comes close to re-inventing bio-horror themes or suspense thrillers, but there’s always something to be said for a movie that knows what it is, knows what it wants to do, and gets it all done with some craftsmanship and efficiency. 

The plot is admirably simple stuff: a group of volunteers are gathered at a (large, creepy, and isolated) medical facility so they can test a new drug in exchange for some decent money. Except, whoops, this experimental medication causes psychosis and spurts of harrowing rage fits that should seem a little familiar to the 28 Days Later fans — and it doesn’t take long before the volunteers and the medical staff are trapped, cut off from help, and dealing with new outbreaks of insanity every few hours.

Writer/director Ian Clark borrows liberally from a handful of conventional horror stories and familiar themes, but once The Facility lays down its cards, pays off its premise, and gets rolling with the virtually non-stop lunatic attacks from all corners, it’s simply fresh and diverting enough to keep horror fans happy. The best moments of The Facility are mostly attacks, fights, and other nasty altercations, but Clark also gets some decent suspense out of his premise: it seems that some of the volunteers were given a placebo, which means they won’t go insane — even if they’re still in danger of being slaughtered like a trapped pig.

The titular facility is, of course, an overlit and unwelcoming warren of hallways and laboratories, and the film does a fine job of juggling a small cast of characters and making the viewer well aware that these poor bastards are completely on their own. And while there aren’t any “name” actors on board, the cast is another example of why The Facility works: the characters are pretty basic, but the actors are quite good. Clark sets up his players in spare, quick fashion but you’ll definitely have a few folks to root for (as well as despise) once the movie gets all crazy and violent.