Not so much trial by fire, as trial by drug trial by fire, seven volunteers look to line their pockets to the tune of a £2,000 (about $2,500 US) by taking some experimental meds, agreeing to live in some off-the-beaten trek facility with lacks all mod-cons, including internet and anything that could be used to summon help ASAP.
That’s a pretty great premise, and the results prove efficacious, bonus, it’ll end up in Lancet!
The staff at The Facility don’t prove to be much help at all, as after all, it’s a double-blind study wherein neither staff nor subject knows what drug is being administered, which adds a quick-and-easy layer of intrigue to the proceedings, even if the researchers’ biases aren’t particularly well hidden.
And the people potentially putting their lives on the line for the equivalent of a nice studio flat in a semi-decent area of London? There’s a Charlie Manson doppelganger whose saddle-face tells a tale of one pharma trial too many, but at least hasn’t suffered the fate of the Simpsons’ Mr McGreg, who has a “leg for an arm and an arm for a leg” with his dangerous occupation choice. He’s a seen-it-all vet of these types of things and scares the other assembled with a possibly apocryphal yarn about staff in other studies taking advantage of comatose participants.There’s a journalist who’s taken a placebo, who arouses suspicions of her colleagues, a mindless workout fiend who despite instructions to the contrary, can’t keep himself from sit ups/push-ups and others not given much of a backstory.
Still the tension builds nicely with mordant humour, nice lighting, and inspired practical effects on the cheap.
There’s no hissing zombies or frothing-at-the-mouth, a welcome body horror change of pace.
This reviewer saw this one following the exemplary French documentary, Unit of Difficult Patients: What Future for the Criminally Insane? but wouldn’t recommend that as a date-night double-bill.
*** (out of 5)