The Factory opens with its vile psychopath plucking a hooker off the street, who meets a somewhat grisly end within the next few minutes. This establishes the film’s antagonist, but bears no further relevance to the plot as his aim is not to kill his victims. At least not immediately or without sufficient provocation; thus, the opening sequence is rendered completely useless. Kidnapping women off the street is the antagonist’s game and the fate he subjects them to, although perverse, is not clear until halfway through. Naturally he is pursued by a hard-boiled detective whose main purpose for some time now, despite being told to close the case, is catching this lunatic. The case has already taken over his life and embroils him even further when his own daughter is kidnapped.
John Cusack, although perfectly capable of carrying a film, is a peculiar choice for the role of the detective. His trademark dry humour is in place at times and works when used; but the decision to use him in this role is never quite convincing. He is not helped much by the awful script and the wearisome plot through which the characters must stumble. Mae Whitman has come a long way from the cute, little kids she used to play and even though the part of Cusack’s daughter is not the richest or most demanding role, it is still fun to watch her play the rebellious teenager.
The whole film is murky and cast in shadow; perhaps in an attempt to heighten the eeriness and tension, but it really just feels like someone forgot to switch on the lights. It is not in the least bit frightening or suspenseful, but there are a few sufficiently disturbing bits helped along by a bunch of wacky girls locked up in the killer’s basement. In the last twenty minutes, the film suddenly tries to be something completely different as an attempt at a clever twist is thrown in. It is only unexpected, because it is so feeble and does nothing but unravel the plot towards an unsatisfactory ending.