A gear shifting investigation!
The Mangler instigates fear with its premise, has a striking gimmick, a distinctive threat and features unique antagonists, but doesn't have the story arc or the financial means to make it count. A disposable procedural makes the film harder to sit through than it has to be. The main actors’ talent makes it at least digestible and creates significance where there is none.
The set design is elaborately surreal. The haunted factory’s ambiance carries over to the various external subplots like an omniscient presence. The script doesn't spoon-feed us and is vague on the details of the machine’s motivation and backstory but still lets us in on its mythology to tease us. It is generally well-written but needs to superpose two stories to pull off its running time.
The end result is convoluted, never fully assumed and oddly paced. On the positive side, those looking for fun scares, stylish photography, relatable gore, occasional cheese and everything Stephen King might find The Mangler good enough. Ultimately, the issue with this production is that it hits all the cliched pitfalls its decade is blamed for by horror aficionados.