Furnace (2006)

Furnace (2007)

Somewhere between prison and hell lies the furnace.

A sudden spate of suicides amongst inmates occurs when a long-closed section of Blackgate Prison is re-opened to house an overflow of prisoners. Detective Michael Turner is called in to investigate these tragedies and slowly uncovers the real supernatural story: that a vengeful spirit has been unearthed and is out to get revenge.

 

Furnace is every bit as dull and as predictable as it sounds, just another generic ghost film which throws in the same one or two frame close-ups of ghosts, lots of nauseating camera work and a general sense of been there, done that. The Asians have pretty much cornered the market in creepy ghost stories featuring child ghosts and there’s nothing that Furnace has in its arsenal that even comes close to matching its international supernatural competition.

In fact there’s not a large amount of the supernatural on show here. Most of Furnace is grounded in the traditional cop thriller mould and there are lots of scenes of our heroic detective piecing together bits of the puzzle by questioning, reading up on articles and generally being a nuisance around the prison. When the film stays inside the confines of the prison, Furnace isn’t too bad. It was shot inside an old Tennessee prison so the realistic setting gives it some added impact above anything some stage sets could handle. Some of the scenes inside do manage to kick start the film into life, particularly the early ‘suicide’ inside one of the cells and there are some solid special effects including crawling severed fingers. But these are too sporadic and the film never really gets going, opting to stay within its limited scope instead of trying anything adventurous.

Michael Pare plays Detective Turner completely by-the-book. He’s action man when he needs to be, he’s tender and romantic when he’s wooing the ladies and he’s good at his job during the “let’s play cop” scenes. Pare is solid enough to do what is expected of his character in the film but there’s not an awful lot of depth to his character despite some attempts at back story. Tom Sizemore co-stars as one of the prison guards who has history with Turner. Naturally this sub-plot goes virtually nowhere and is simply another obstruction for Turner to get past in his quest to solve the case. Sizemore phones the performance in and, save for an unintentionally-hilarious scene where he completely flips and starting shooting inmates, the role is very poorly written.

Spare a thought for Danny Trejo, a man so entrenched in stereotype that you just assume he’s going to be playing the same role in every film he’s in. Trejo stars as, you guessed it, a tough guy inmate. He’s joined by rapper Ja Rule but both characters are so insignificant to the main story that it would have been better to cut them out entirely and devote a bit more time to the main characters.

 

Furnace is a lifeless ghost flick, trapped between playing up the horror aspects and playing out the crime thriller aspects. Lumbering along a dull path, it manages to do neither aspect very well.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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