The military and the occult are always fascinating subjects to explore...
...There is a plethora of ways that one could take a story that takes the two seemingly separate worlds and intertwines them into something unique. Mysticism and occult practices have been used throughout history, whether it be to search for hidden artifacts or using black magic to open the veil behind our world in an effort to secure victory during a war. None of these things has been proven to work, of course—it’s why they remain shrouded in mystery. The plot of writer/director Matt Mitchell’s The Facility takes these ideas and tries to build a very unique observation and a compelling tale of a group of curious adventurers who find an abandoned base and discover that occult research took place. So much groundwork is already laid: an isolated setting, a cast of characters being driven by forces they don’t understand, a group of paramilitary soldiers hired by a shadow company that does not want the truth to be revealed. It’s a great setup for a wonderful film, and on paper it works, but sadly this film is about as far off the mark as it can be.
The film starts right off with a group of young urban explorers arriving at an abandoned base. No context is given as to why they chose this place or what is inside. Aside from this ambiguity of purpose, however, The Facility’s biggest problem is that there is very little character development. We don’t know who they are or why they’re exploring the base, and just as we watch them make their way into the facility, the plot swings to a separate group of military soldiers who have been tasked with getting the group of explorers out of the base by any means necessary. In ten minutes of screentime, the audience is introduced to about 15 characters, and we can’t tell much of anything about them or their relationships to one another. It’s clear as they go deeper into the base that each explorer has some kind of backstory, but it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. After a certain amount of them aimlessly wandering, the focus returns to the military group on their way to the base. It is as confusing as it sounds and, by the time things start getting visually interesting, we’re ultimately left confused about the story the film was trying to tell.
The amount of time and effort it takes to bring a film together is always a feat worthy of praise in itself, and here is no exception. It took a lot of people a lot of hard work to bring this script to life. Unfortunately, Mitchell’s direction feels a little aimless despite the potential of the material. With such a unique concept and place to film, one would hope that director of photography Jamie Burr would be given more to work with. To the film’s credit, though most of it feels visually bland, it does eventually ramp up to be a special effects extravaganza towards the end where some interesting things happen. Regrettably, it doesn’t quite give the newly exciting visuals enough time to work their magic on the rest of the film.
The sound, too, has a few of its own hurdles. It’s far too quiet and there is a glaring issue with echoes when the actors are inside the base that made it come across as manufactured in a way that made it feel more like a distraction than an advancement of story.
The Facility has a lot of potential in its premise. The ideas Mitchell sets out to tackle are interesting and unique, but the execution falls a little too flat to work for me.
The Facility is now on digital and DVD from Uncork’d Entertainment.
By Justin Drabek