Screened as part of last year’s EIFF and Film4 FrightFest lineups, British director Ian Clark’s low-budget debut The Facility (2012) (formerly known as ‘Guinea Pigs’) now finds its way onto DVD, having just missed out on a theatrical release. A group of eight strangers come together at an isolated research facility to undergo a phase one medical trial for an untested drug called ‘Pro-9’. Most of the participants are there for the money, with some having made such clinical trials their primary source of income. Katie (Nia Roberts) is a journalist there to cover the procedure for a piece she’s currently writing – entitled ‘The Last Resort’.
Sadly, Clark’s film lacks the budget and apparatus to prove wholly successful. It’s a shame, as there’s a fantastic premise behind the stunted and cheap façade of this ambitious genre piece. Creating a horror about the psychological effects of a group of strangers, as they witness first hand the pain and torment of their gruesome fate, creates a fascinating observational piece on human behaviour. Yet, despite some good performances, there isn’t really enough depth to the film’s handful of characters.
The Facility has the intrusive feel of a Big Brother-style horror story, replacing the prospect of fame as a destructive catalyst on its inhabitants with something far more comprehensible and less superficial. However, the absence of any real sense of peril leaves Clark’s debut feature feeling like a cinematic experiment gone horribly, frustratingly wrong. This is undeniably a smart and well-acted horror on paper which, through poor execution, fails to shock, scare or excite in any substantial or satisfying way.