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RELEASED: 2010, Cert. 18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 80 mins
DIRECTOR: Robert Lieberman
PRODUCERS: Mark Bung, Oren Koules, Carl Mazzocone & Marek Posival
SCREENPLAY: Marek Posival
MUSIC: Jeff Rona
Erika Chistansen as Elise
Jesse Metcalfe as Craig
FILM ONLY REVIEW
When Elise's and Craig's son is kidnapped and murdered by a child-torturing serial killer, they hatch a plan of cold-blooded revenge.
After the killer's trial, Elise and Craig manage to divert a police van which is transporting the killer to jail, and kidnap the prisoner, subjecting him to the same kind of torture that he put their child through.
However, things don't turn out exactly as they planned!
The beginning of The Tortured shows an obviously very disturbed man in a basement, with a child screaming in another room. The man appears to be reliving parts of his own childhood, punctuating the lullaby he is playing on the record player and his verbal reminiscences, with shouting at the child to keep quiet.
The scene then shifts to Elise and Craig being informed by the police that their six-year-old son, Benjamin, has been found dead in a basement. From the point where Elise and Craig identify their child's body, it all becomes rather crazy.
As the film progresses, a pretty good storyline emerges, but the way it is handled by the whole movie-making team turns it into a ridiculous and repetitive debacle which is only just barely watchable. A lot of the scenes I found quite difficult to concentrate on, partly because the camera work is appalling, sometimes veering away from focusing on the central visual point of what was happening, and sometimes being moved around unnecessarily and unsteadily. This for me came across as so irritating, that it almost stopped me from continuing to watch. However, I forced myself to try and ignore that particular problem, but another arose in that the bulk of the film is shot in 95% darkness. I could just about see what was happening, but concluded that if this was a real event, those participating would have needed more light in order to see what they were doing.
The acting in The Tortured really does leave a lot to be desired, and the characterisation is very uneven in the sense that the likelihood of somebody changing their mind about something to the degree that they do, is highly unlikely. That is a big flaw in the otherwise rather good storyline, but such could easily have been tweaked a bit in order for it to make sense.
The music to The Tortured isn't dissimilar to that used in some Mike Leigh films, but it doesn't suit this one. Also, it is far too loud (orchestral in nature), at times almost drowning out what is an already badly flawed script.
This film needs a huge shake-up, and if somebody competent were, in say five years time tempted to do a re-make, I honestly wouldn't blame them....it is remakes of what is already perfect that annoys me, not attempts to improve upon cinematic disasters such as The Tortured as it currently stands.
There is a twist in The Tortured, but I saw it coming very early on. This twist could have been put across so very much better, because the way it is portrayed in this film is rather absurd...I want to say why, but I can't as it would then count as a definite spoiler.
Although I sat through the whole of The Tortured, at various points I did feel as though my own senses were undergoing some sort of divine retribution, simply because of its awfulness. I must repeat though, that overall the storyline is a very good one....just that it is totally ruined by poor acting, mis-casting, poor direction and production, overly loud music, some scenes being too dark and a lousy script.
If somebody like Hitchock, were he still alive and kicking, had got hold of this story, I'm certain that its potential would have been drawn out, quite likely then turning into a gripping, edge of your seat horror/thriller....but, it didn't happen that way and the result is a damp squib.
In summary, everybody needs to go back to the drawing board and seriously regurgitate The Tortured, in order to turn it into what it is capable of being...a masterful, spine-chilling psychological thriller...but, it just didn't happen, at least not this time around. Perhaps I'm being overly generous with my award of two stars, but those are given for the story itself, no more.
At the time of writing, The Tortured can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.20 to £19.35
Used: from £1.28 to £7.40
Collectible: Two copies currently available @ £2.80 and £5.99
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
There wasn't much about this film when I came across it on Amazon, but the cover looked interesting (someone upside down with a strange mask on) and it seemed to fit nicely into my horror/thriller genre that I watch so much of. Unfortunately, whilst there was plenty of ouchy moments and gore, there were several annoyances with this film. It's not all too original so if you've had your fill of torture films then this will probably bore you silly.
The Tortured was directed by Robert Lieberman (who's previously worked on Titanic & Dexter, amongst many others) and whilst the film had a fairly good quality feel to it, it nonetheless felt like a low-budget flick at times. Some of this was due to the cast and the overall lack of action and scenes outside of a basement-turned-torture chamber.
The basic plot concerns the Landry family who suffer a huge tragedy; Elise (Erika Christensen) and Craig (Jesse Metcalfe) are a middle class couple whose only son was kidnapped and killed. The evil child-killer seems to get an easy escape through the justice system and the couple at first appear unable to move on from what's happened. Aware that a man has been arrested, Kozolwski deserves to suffer like his victim suffered and before long the heartbroken parents concoct a plan of their own to seek revenge.
So, the couple get this guy away from the cops whilst they're transferring him in a van (which was obviously no easy feat, but they seemed to manage without too many problems). Next, they take him back to their house and make him aware that he must pay for what he's done. But the man, now strapped to the table, seems to be too out of it to understand, unspeaking of what he's done.
His silence is rewarded by means of torture; the couple seem to have everything at hand to do a good job of this. Obviously equipped for such an instance to arise, various instruments and punishments are inflicted over a few days.
There were a few unbelievable & practically impossible instances that I found irritating, enough so to distract from the atmosphere and tension of the film. For instance, how a deadly-looking car crash leaves all three passengers alive, two of which walk out two minutes later. 2 are still tucked up inside whilst one is thrown out a good distance away, which didn't really seem viable given there was no sign of how that could have happened. Other annoyances are from things overlooked, either by stupidity of the characters or the director, I'm not sure which. For instance, the open curtains in the basement where any on-looker could easily peep in and see somebody being mutilated strapped to a table.
To break up the run-of-the-mill feel to this film, there is a twist. I wont give it away, but I didn't feel that it necessarily came out clearly enough to make as large an impact as it could have.
The acting was also somewhat mediocre, which was a shame as I had expected a good performance from Metcalfe when I found he was in it. Nothing was dire, but it could have been a bit better. That said, we do get a sense of darkness, fear and some empathy for the parents and why they're doing what they're doing. I just didn't think anything was quite as pronounced as it could have been to make the atmosphere razor-edge sharp, which was disappointing.
Overall, I found myself quite unmoved by the film. It wasn't anything too thrilling or different and it didn't have my gripped. Perhaps you reach a point of watching too many of these films whereby you get de-sensitised to the brutality and gore, but I don't get bored of the Saw series. I think the issue with this film was mostly one of atmosphere, which just wasn't quite thrilling enough.
RRP £15.99 but selling on Amazon for £7.49
2010, Rated Certificate 18.