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Animal Factory (2000)

Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


If prison life is anything like how it’s shown to be in ‘Animal Factory’, then what you really need to survive in there isn’t a knife, but an exceptionally strong pair of pants. Thankfully, I’ve never been inside so I wouldn’t know about that – but writer Edward Bunker has, so I’m happy to take his word for it.

Edward Furlong, who based on this showing is still every bit as whiney as he was in Terminator 2, plays first-time convict Earl Copen. A “pretty boy” weakling who’s only remaining friend on the outside world is the dad from ‘Home Alone’ (John Heard), it looks like certain parts of his anatomy are going to be in for a rough time. That is until he’s taken under the unlikely wing of slap-headed long-timer Ron Decker (Willem Dafoe), and gradually learns how to fight his corner.

Like all modern prison movies, this one is forever doomed to comparison with The Shawshank Redemption and, as a result, is fighting a losing battle from the very start. Running at just 90 minutes, it seems too short to give us any real insight into what makes the characters tick, and the general story is too familiar to stand-out from the crowd.

Dafoe, however, is on top form under the directorial eye of Steve Buscemi (who also has a minor part in the flick). Buscemi’s style behind the camera is subtle yet effective, and the result is a better end product than Bunker’s weak and largely unimaginative screenplay deserves.

It's Got: A virtually unrecognisable Mickey Rourke as Earl’s cross-dressing cellmate, and big Tom Arnold as a bum-loving simpleton.

It Needs: Someone to give Edward Furlong a shake. If they’re ever looking for someone to play Sleepy in a live action vehicle for the Seven Dwarves, he’d be just the man for the part.

DVD Extras No extra features on this edition. DVD Extras Rating: 0/10


Professionally-made, but unremarkable.