TORMENT

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Pollard

DVD REVIEW: TORMENT / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: JORDAN BAKER / SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL FOSTER, THOMAS POUND / STARRING: KATHARINE ISABELLE, ROBIN DUNNE, PETER DACUNHA, STEPHEN MCHATTIE, NOAH DANBY / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 26TH

The central focus of Jordan Baker’s Torment is a newly-established family who become tormented (no pun intended) by a backwards group of wrong’ uns during a jaunt to the country. Sarah (Isabelle) and Cory (Dunne) are recently married, with the trip intended to warm Cory’s young son Liam (DaCunha) to his new stepmother and for this blended family to begin their life of ‘happy ever after.’ Things go array as soon as the first night in the supposed-idyllic country house, with Liam being kidnapped by what is revealed to be some sort of twisted cult; an insane family who dress up in ragtag animal costumes. Sarah and Cory face a battle to keep themselves alive, to rescue Liam, to stop this creepy “family” and their agenda, and to make sense of just what is actually going on.

Torment is a decent enough film, if not a tad predictable. It seems to be a mixture of various horror subgenres, with an opening that is like something out of a classic slasher film, elements of a home invasion thriller, and a creepy, volatile family unit that draws inspiration from the likes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Rob Zombie’s Firefly clan. Despite falling into formulaic territory as it progresses, the first half of the film is genuinely engaging and interesting. Sadly, once the cat is out of the bag and we begin to get our first solid looks at the film’s villains, that is when Torment starts to lose its audience.

When its antagonists are out of shot, Baker’s film really does amp up the tension, assisted by some nice shots and cinematography that really aides in building the atmosphere of the piece. It’s just that the masks of the bad guys of Torment really do detract from the scares; they just aren’t creepy or all that scary. In fact, they bring back memories for this particular writer of an abomination of a movie called The Bunnyman Massacre (Google it if you have a penchant for poorly-written, badly-acted “horrors” about a killer dressed up as a bargain basement Bugs Bunny rip-off). Now Torment is nowhere near as bad as The Bunnyman Massacre, but that’s largely down to a strong first half and an impressive performance from Katharine Isabelle.

For horror fans, it’s a nice change of pace to see Isabelle, known to so many for playing disposable teens or victims in such films, taking on the mother role here. Thing is, she really does deserve better than what she is given to work with during the second half of Torment. The film itself isn’t all bad, and is far from a dud, but its short running time of 1 hour 15 minutes feels like the right call to make, with the story falling apart the longer the film continues. All in all, Torment, at times, is tense, sinister, and is held together by a fantastic turn from genre favourite Katharine Isabelle. But by the time Torment comes to a close, you can’t help but think that it really was a missed opportunity to do something memorable.

Special Features: TBC
 

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