The Factory – Debbie Does Dexter

The Factory is currently available on instant Netflix.

One Line Review: Boring, boring, boring, left-field twist that makes no sense, end movie as nonsensically as the twist.

The FactoryThe Factory (2012) – Rated R

“John Cusack stars as Mike Fletcher, a policeman consumed with capturing a serial killer who’s been abducting and slaying his victims with impunity. But when Fletcher’s teen daughter vanishes, the fixated cop sets aside his badge to nab the murderer.”

Poor John Cusack. He started out promisingly in the teen comedies of the 80s. His boombox scene in Say Anything is iconic. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he continued making films straight through until now, alternating between high profile mainstream projects (Con Air, 2012) and wonderful indie features (Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity, Identity). There was an ebb and flow to his career.

How did he ever end up in direct-to-DVD drivel like this? Did he run into financial troubles like Nicolas Cage and Wesley Snipes? I thought that this must be an aberration but, looking at imdb, Cusack has no less than eight films this year.

Yes, John Cusack makes The Factory better than it has a right to be but this is hardly good work on his part. Jennifer Carpenter is looking to break out of her role as Miami homicide detective Deb in Dexter and into movies as Dexter winds down its final episodes. Here Carpenter plays a Buffalo homicide detective. So umm I guess she adds acting cold to her resume.

I noticed on Netflix, someone was lauding the film for being unpredictable. Well there is something to be said for that. That is, if by unpredictable, what you actually mean is nonsensical. I don’t do spoilers but for some films, the ending is the story. What would The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense be without the ending? Sometimes a film can be nonsensical and still be quite enjoyable (Star Trek Into Darkness), most other times it just detracts (Iron Man 3). Here it takes an otherwise routine film and makes you want to hurl something at the screen.

I guess the real problem is that The Factory isn’t very good to begin with. The central premise is that one of the detectives working for years to catch a serial killer of prostitutes has his teen daughter kidnapped by the killer. Please note that this is NOT to get back at the officer, the killer simply mistakes this one girl in the entire city for another prostitute (was the writer/director angry with the way his teenage daughter dresses?).

It is obvious that the writers thought of this wonderful ending and worked their way backwards but, again, it in no way makes sense. You won’t say omigosh! so much as huh? Carpenter and Cusack try to elevate this but it doesn’t rise above the level of dreck.

Quarantine

U.S. remakes of foreign films have a spotty history as often what made the foreign film so special is lost in translation. Even the well adapted ones often pale in comparison to the original. Netflix currently has Quarantine, an adaptation of Spain’s [REC], available for instant play.

Quarantine

WATCH: Quarantine (2008) – “While on assignment shadowing firemen, a Los Angeles news reporter (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman (Steve Harris) get trapped in a quarantined apartment complex with a vicious unknown killer. With all forms of communications cut, the news crew keeps the cameras rolling as they search for a way to escape rabies-infected zombies. John Erick Dowdle writes and directs this frenzied horror film that also stars Johnathon Schaech.”

In 2007, Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza made the wonderful [REC], a Spanish horror film about an out of control rabies infection. In 2008, John Erick Dowdle remade this as Quarantine. Many of the scenes in Quarantine are slavishly copied shot-for-shot from [REC] although I found this to be a good thing as [REC] was unavailable in the US until after Quarantine’s release. Jennifer Carpenter plays the lead and makes Angela a very different character from her portrayal as Dexter’s sister in Dexter. The movie plays out much like a roller coaster – you have some build up for a while as we get to know the reporters and firemen then once we reach the apex (the first confrontation with an infected resident), it’s a non-stop thrill ride straight to the end. The whole movie is shot POV (Now with shaky-cam!) which works well but after The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, this, and Diary of the Dead, I’m hopeful that we can give the Verite a bit of a rest. The story is fleshed out a bit in-between the screaming and running but is actually easy to miss. There is a very effective feeling of claustrophobia and there are a few added bits not in [REC] that add a little more depth. All in all this is a very fun thrill ride – [REC] is definitely better but this is a good adaptation.

Dexter

I believe Dexter is unquestionably the best show on television. My one caveat on recommendation is if you have trouble with having a serial killer as the protagonist of a show. The first two seasons are currently available on instant play.

Dexter season 1

WATCH: Dexter season 1 (2006) – “Playing a sympathetic serial killer might sound like a stretch, but former “Six Feet Under” star Michael C. Hall pulls it off in this macabre drama about a likable forensics expert who channels his violent tendencies into knocking off miscreants. Dexter Morgan (Hall) seems so harmless, in fact, that neither his girlfriend (Julie Benz) nor his cop sister (Jennifer Carpenter) suspect the true nature of his extracurricular activities.”

At first I thought all of the supporting cast’s performances were spot on but that Michael C. Hall’s performance lacked something – that it was a bit flat. A little later it hit me, his performance was brilliant. He plays a man who plays at having emotions to blend in. The South Florida scenery is wonderful (though I probably overvalue it as I grew up in Miami and miss it though certainly not the omnipresent heat). The writing is wonderful and the cast of characters is very complex – many besides Dexter having psychological issues of their own. Although individual episodes are well-plotted, the meat of the show comes from the wonderful character interactions and the overall season story.

Dexter season 2

WATCH: Dexter season 2 (2007) – “Mild-mannered forensics expert Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall, in an Emmy-nominated turn) continues his double life as a Miami serial killer in the sophomore season of Showtime’s dark drama. Keith Carradine joins the cast as FBI agent Frank Lundy, whose investigation may expose Dexter’s dark secret. Call him crazy, but there’s method in Dexter’s madness as more of Miami’s worst meet their demises.”

Well everything I said about season one applies to season two as well. The only difference is the addition of two new wonderful characters, Jaime Murray as Lila and Keith Carradine as Special Agent Frank Lundy.