2 Aug 2014

Review - There is Something to be Admired in the Derivative 'Torment'

Newlyweds Cory and Sarah Morgan 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.

Home Invasion horror is something that is starting to become increasingly popular ever since the release of the ever-so brilliant You're Next, and whether or not many have been able to surpass it is another story; but most, like Jordan Baker's Torment does a pretty decent job of keeping the masked-invaders spark alive and in-tact, even if it means passing through cliches to get there. It's all one big wheel of unoriginality really, but if it keeps you entertained then that's good enough for me; and that my friends is how I would describe Torment.

We have all seen the masked killers pray on a family in a deserted area horror, and it is something that 99% of the time is inserted into the home invasion sub-genre, because that's what it's made up of along with other sub-genre staples that Torment never passes without recognition. If you're going into this expecting to see something that breaks away from the sub-genre's clutches then you may reconsider your option as Torment feels like a mold of all the conventions of the sub-genre, leaving little to be admired with originality aside from a twist in the premise that never really gets fully explained. This of course doesn't mean the 80 minutes of torture and mystery isn't worth while; it isn't exactly great, but it's enough to keep you there 'til the end.

Sure, Torment may feel like a blanket stitched together of reused material, but what it does have is a great cast, chilling villains and an intense sense of dread, and that is something that shines in Torment, along with the impressive and (yet another) successful performance from the Scream Queen of today, Katherine Isabelle. This isn't her best work, but with the role she is given and the challenges the character faces, she does a strong job at presenting both a tough yet vulnerable woman who is worth rooting for. Like this character, we dread the demise for the rest who's battle for survival both captures a sense of reality and honesty; it feels real and it definitely feels creepy.

The Strangers, You're Next, Them etc. have all done what Torment has done, and has done it better, but there is nothing wrong with trying; it never really tries to be any of those films, but it never truly reaches the potential it believed to have had. You can sense the effort here, but perhaps the focus on dread over gore wasn't quite clear (as there was a lot of gore, albeit not as effective as it should have been). There is no point judging a film so under-the-radar like Torment; it is what it is, and what it is, is a pretty decent home invasion slasher with style.

VERDICT: Although constructed from every cliche of the home invasion horror movie, Torment still manages to pack a punch with its unnerving sense of dread and a strong performance from Katherine Isabelle. 


R / 80 mins / Thriller / 2014

Director: Jordan Barker

Writer: Michael Foster, Thomas Pound

Stars: Katherine Isabelle, Robin Dunne, Peter DeCunha, Stephen McHattie, Noah Danby

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