Torment (2013) **
D: Jordan Barker
C: Robin Dunne, Katharine Isabelle, Peter DaCunha, Stephen McHattie, Amy Forsyth, Sitara Hewitt
IMDB Plot Synopsis: Newlyweds Cory and Sarah take Cory's 7-year old son, Liam, up to the country for some much needed family time. When it appears as if Liam has run away, psychological suspense becomes straight-out horror, as Sarah and Cory must now confront a sadistic cult-like family who have been hiding in the house all along and have taken Liam for themselves.
REVIEW: Torment is one of those films that I wanted to like, but ultimately didn't. The film stars horror icon Katharine Isabelle of American Mary and the Ginger Snaps trilogy. I remember the first time I saw Ginger Snaps. Katharine Isabelle was like a breath of fresh air in a wonderfully edgy performance. At first, I didn't think that Isabelle would be convincing in a normal role, so to speak, but by the time Torment had ended, she won me over. I bought into the idea that she was a newlywed trying to form a relationship with her stepson.
Co-starring as Isabelle's husband is veteran TV actor Robin Dunne. Dunne stared in some of my favorite guilty pleasures from back when I was a teen such as Cruel Intentions 2, The Skulls 2 and even Dawson's Creek! I remember the first time I saw Dunne as well. I thought he had a relatable type quality that would serve him well as an actor. Plus, the fact that he's left handed and a Scorpio like myself is probably another reason why he has always stood out to me, but that's beside the point. To get back on point, both Dunne and Isabelle turn in competent (if unremarkable) performances. However, if I was to look at their filmographies a year from now, Torment simply would NOT stand out amongst the films and / or TV shows that they've appeared in.
So where did it go wrong? Most will be quick to point out the bad lighting. There's several instances in which it's hard to make out what exactly is happening on screen, but ultimately, that isn't what trips it up. What Torment suffers from is its lack of distinctiveness. I could appreciate the minimalist approach. It took me back to the era of horror films such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), but the thing is, when you're making a minimalist horror film, it has to be absolutely spectacular in order to stand out.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre accomplished just that. I remember when Marilyn Burns' character screamed in the film. Her scream was so piercing, it cut right into me. I remember all of the times that the film made me jump. I remember the dinner table scene. It was one of the most harrowing scenes of terror ever committed to a horror film. To put it simply, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, to this day, is still one of the scariest horror films ever made.
Now, I'm not saying that Torment isn't suspenseful, because it is, but the suspense is only fleeting. There was some potential with the villain who dons a mask with Mickey Mouse type ears. However, the villain is never photographed in a way that makes the mask pop on screen. As a result, the villain doesn't leave much of an impression. That kind of sums up Torment in a nutshell.
Aside from the lighting issues, Torment is competently acted and made, but there is no one performance in the film that made me go Wow! There was no one scene of suspense or terror that particularly affected me. While the film's story held my interest, there was no one character I was rooting for. There was no villain that made my skin crawl. There's a few plot twists in the film. I never found any of the twists too far fetched, but I never found any of them to be particularly effective either. Everything's kind of wishy washy and middle of the road. The film needed a punch of razzle dazzle somewhere, anywhere!
As a result of the film's middle of the road type quality, Torment ends up becoming one of those films that you watch once and then instantly forget about. For those that have seen the film, ask yourself this. Is Torment a film that you will think about a month ...or even a week from now? [R] 77 mins.
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