August 24, 2014

DVD Review: Torment (2014)
Whenever Katharine Isabelle's name pops up in reference to a new Genre project, we take notice; the girl has been one of the hardest working Horror Hotties in the business for years now, and she makes even the bad movies that she stars in seem better, just by being in them.

With her recent turns In American Mary and Hannibal, we're even more eager to see anything new that she's starring in, which is why we had such high hopes for Torment.

As it turns out, sitting through Torment was in itself a torment all of its own. At least the title was fitting.

Newlyweds Sarah and Cory decide to take a vacation deep in the woods to their summer cabin, which is more like a mini-mansion than anything. Cory's son Liam is along for the trip, which is no good for anyone; you see, the kid hates his new stepmother, because his dad married her way too soon after his mother's death. So basically, this vacation is going to suck for everyone.

Arriving at the cabin-mansion, they find that someone has been staying there, and that they've made quite a mess of the place. The local Sheriff tells them that it's probably just teenagers who are squatting there since no one was around, and tells them not to worry. This turns out to be the worst advice ever.

Yeah, no need to worry.
When Liam goes missing that very night, Sarah and Cory are pulled into the twisted world of a creepy foster family that want little Liam for their own. Why? We have no clue. They're just all about torturing and killing people and giving their kids a new home.

Why does this mask look nothing like it does in the poster?
Will Sarah and Cory rescue Liam, and survive the night? Will we ever find out exactly why the creepy foster family is doing? Will there be an underwhelming twist at the end, that will underwhelm us? I don't know about all of that, but I will say that not much of this movie made a whole lot of sense, especially the ending.

Oh don't look so surprised. You knew exactly what this was.
Torment is a fairly competent effort that has its heart in the right place, even if it didn't work very well for us overall. The whole "somebody has been in out house" premise is interesting enough, and the idea of two parents fighting to save their kid from a band of merry maniacs is pretty cool too, but those ideas never really turn into anything all that compelling here.

Had the plot elements made a bit more sense, this would have been a solid little Survival Horror flick. It is all kinds of tense, has a few fairly creepy moments throughout, and it kept us engaged; we wanted to see where it was going, instead of giving up on it halfway through.

Katharine Isabelle is the key to this movie, as her presence alone makes it watchable. She really is a great actress, and she always seems to handle Genre roles like a pro, even if those roles (or the movies that they're a part of) aren't all that great.

The Canadian Danielle Harris.
I guess my biggest problem with this movie is that it didn't make a whole lot of sense. Where did the "family members" come from, and why were they doing what they were doing? Were they just traveling maniacs who set up camp in the barn of the family from the beginning? And how did no one realize that a mother, father and daughter were all dead? Did they not have jobs? Did they have no friends or other family members that would come looking for them? These killers and their backstory are far too underdeveloped, and the more that we saw of them onscreen, especially when they start talking, the less frightening they became.

The writing is the biggest culprit here, as they way that some of the scenes play out make little sense, and a lot of the dialogue simply doesn't work at all.

Sarah: "What do you want!"
Piggy Mask shows her a picture of the kid.
Sarah: "Why do you want him!"
Piggy Mask: "To take him home."
Sarah: "This is his home!"
Piggy Mask shows her a picture of the kid's parents.
Piggy Mask: "This is his hell."

That scene just played so awkward... The writers tried to make the masked killers come off as clever with their contrived lines, and with the way that they would move and behave. The killers in this movie felt like as if The Strangers were made up of Jigsaw, one of the inbred mongoloids from Wrong Turn, and Squeaky Fromme.

So much of it played far too heavy-handed, and felt way too try-hard.

Mickey Why?

  • So you hear a noise in the middle of the night, and see something pass by your door, but all you do is go check downstairs for two seconds and determine that everything is alright? Wouldn't you want to go check things in the direction that whatever passed in front of your door went... you know, where you kid is sleeping?
  • You have a flair gun, which is at least something of a weapon, but you shoot the rounds off in the middle of the forest so that you can see? I get that it probably sounded like a great idea for a scene, but it made no sense.
  • Was the big reveal at the end supposed to be shocking or something?
  • Why would you stop to talk and give each other kisses when a group of maniacs just tried to kill you all? Do you know they're all dead for sure?
  • How many shots does this shotgun have? 

Is it aliens?
Torment is not a very bloody affair. It's a violent affair, and it's even got some torture in places, but for the most part, the bloody bits are fairly tame.

Not messy, but creepy.
We get Katharine Isabelle taking a shower (which was obscured by that damned shower curtain), and we're pretty sure that she may have been topless during the sex scene, but it was too dark to tell. So, no naked stuff in this one.

Screw you, shower curtain!
Garden shears are multi-functional. Also, Katharine Isabelle is pretty much the Canadian version of Danielle Harris.

Midnight gardening.
We'll give Torment a C- based on the fact that Katharine Isabelle is always fun to watch in Genre movies like this, and because if not for her, this movie would have been nearly insufferable. If you can avoid over-thinking things (we never can), then you may just find this a serviceable little Backwoods Horror joint.


Torment is available now on DVD and VOD.

Katharine Isabelle is one of the First Ladies of Horror in the new millennium, and rightly so.

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