Movie Review - Torment
Director Jordan Baker's 2014 indie-horror film, Torment, is based on an interesting and original concept, written by Michael Foster and Thomas Pound. And while the acting is strong, the masks are frightening, and the film's visual tone is nearly perfect, the actual presentation of the story winds up feeling a bit lackluster. It weaves elements of psychological horror with the old fashioned feel of movies like Bob Clark's Black Christmas, yet somehow never commits to either enough for it to be effective. Overall, this isn't a bad indie-horror film if you're looking through Netflix for something to watch, but this is only for hardcore fans of the genre. There are some good things to say about the film, and it definitely provides for some seriously creepy moments, it's just not quite as strong as it could have been.
Sarah and Cory have decided to take Cory's son Liam on vacation to an extravagant house in the middle of a seemingly tranquil wilderness. They hope that the time together will give Liam time to bond with his new step-mother, as he has been feeling resentful and hesitant to accept her into the family. But their peaceful getaway is cut short when they discover that someone else has already been living in the house. Despite the local police's assessment that the squatters are probably long gone, Liam suddenly disappears. And the couple are forced to battle a demented family of murderers to save Liam and protect their own lives.
The primary success of the film, without question, is the casting. Robin Dunne is fantastic as Cory, a young father struggling to balance the needs of his son with his own needs, and desperate to bring Liam and Sarah together. Peter DaCunha is incredibly talented in the role of Liam, especially considering his age, and the chemistry between Cory and his son feels very real. And last, but certainly never least, Katherine Isabelle does what she does best here, and practically steals the film. The relationship between her and Cory is palpable and her desire to break through with his son on some level makes Sarah truly endearing. We really do end up caring about theses characters in the end.
As far as the direction is concerned, there are a lot of good things to say. The atmosphere that he creates, provides the perfect backdrop for the action. The ominous tone and color palette of the film bleeds it's way into every frame. And the costume design was incredible. So what is it about the film that felt lackluster? The story, though fairly original, is entirely predictable. And while the film is entertaining, it never provides for any real scares. It's slightly creepy, but just didn't pack much of a punch, and it left me wanting a little more bite. If you're a fan of the genre, you may enjoy yourself with this one, but I wouldn't really say that I recommend it. Cheers.
- Leo Francis