02nd Feb2021

‘The Facility’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Julian Rhind-Tutt, Sally Phillips, Adrian Edmondson, Carol Cleveland, Stephen Marcus, Sarine Sofair, Omri Rose, Harriet Madly, Laura Swift, Kevin Leslie, Laurence Kennedy, Connor Williams, Sophie MIller-Sheen, Michael Fatogun | Written and Directed by Matt Mitchell

Despite the nondescript title, The Facility is actually a sequel to 2017’s British zombie horror The Rizen, and originally debuted in 2019 on the festival circuit as The Rizen: Possession… a title which clearly marks out where the film is headed and what we should expect. So why the title change? Maybe because the sequel has been released by a different distributor who, selfishly, didn’t want to give the first films release any publicity as they didn’t release it (it happens, believe me) or – and I want to say this is the more logical reason – The Rizen wasn’t actually that well received on its release and the distributor wanted to distance this film from the original. Plus, apparently, horror films with “hospital” or hospital-like titles apparently do well, in terms of DVD sales!

So the sequel…

In 1955, NATO and the Allied Forces conducted secret, occult experiments in a bid to win the Arms Race. They succeeded, and what they unleashed almost tore our world apart. On the brink of apocalypse, it was only through the silent self-sacrifice of an incredible female Army Captain (Frances) that our world was saved.

The Facility follows a group of urban explorers and a private military unit as the explore the corridors of the long-abandoned NATO facility. AS they explore the facility, one that still echoes with the horrors of the past, they are hotly pursued by a shadowy mercenary group with a single mission statement of ‘Neutralize & Extract’. Before they can complete the mission however, the events of 60 years ago begin to repeat themselves. Grace, one of the explorers, begins to experience Frances’s memories (much to the confusion of her adopted brother, Adam) – it seems, she has been chosen as a sacrifice to close this door to our annihilation, once and for all.

What is it with British horror and exploring military installations? There have been that many it could become a genre in its own right! And as usual there’s a wide variety of competence when it comes to such films too – although David Ryan Keith essentially set the bar high for British filmmakers exploring (pardon the pun) this particular sub-genre with his films The Dark Within and Redwood Massacre: Annihilation. Unfortunately The Facility falls short of those films – though that’s not to say this is a bad example of the this kind of movie; it’s just, sadly, sub-par.

Mainly because the events of The Facility don’t feel as “real”. There’s an odd choice to occasionally slip in first-person POV, which gives The Facility something of a “Doom” feel (as does the constant walking around corridors in the dark). It’s a stylistic choice that reflects the game-like quality of the film – this feels very much like a Resident Evil or Silent Hill-like video game. Yes, we’re as much in the dark here as we would be in a horror game, but the game-like quality also makes it feel like the consequences aren’t as high. It’s almost as if we’re waiting for the game over screen to appear so the “film” can restart and we can get further into the story. Which means you’re also not as invested in the characters, they become almost throwaway. So much so that you don’t really feel empathy for them when they’re under attack from the hordes of the undead, leaving a gaping hole in the films emotional quotient… and without an emotional connection, the game-like tropes just further compound the issue.

That’s not to say The Facility suffers from it’s game-like quality, it does in fact make this film feel more like a fast-paced action-horror; one that – if budgets were bigger and it had a headlining cast – would be billed as a “popcorn” blockbuster. It’s also very well-made: the production values are high for a low-budget genre film; the cast are all uniformity excellent in their roles; and the action AND horror elements are well-staged too (even if there is an over-reliance at times on jump scares). However there is one elephant in the room… That The Facility is actually the second film in a proposed The Rizen trilogy and as such suffers from trying to play its cards too close to its chest, keeping the big reveals for the final film in the series. Which works when audiences KNOW this is a sequel AND the middle part of a three-film series, but when you retitle it and make no reference to the previous film? Yeah, then you have a problem – joe public will undoubtedly end this film feeling more confused than when they went in!

The Facility is out now, in the US, on DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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