Justine has just jumped up a few rungs on her school’s social ladder after being accepted into the leading clique that rules the halls of her school. Sure, in doing so she has had to make a couple sacrifices in the form losing two of her disappointed BFFs – but the trade off is worth it as now she gets to make fun of other people and let Alexis hide his sausage in her vagina. But all is not well within this nasty group of elitist, bullying pricks. Seems as if the one person who was the main target of their antics committed suicide recently. He was a large, passive and seemingly retarded Darren Mullet who was picked on relentlessly by Justine’s new group of friends. The bullying came in all forms. Physical attacks and humiliation as well as mental abuse and harassment via constant text messages and a public website that showed off their often filmed exploits. Darren decided this shit sucks and chose to stop his tormentors by removing himself from the equation at the end of a noose. But surprise, surprise, the gods have granted Darren life-after-death and he wastes no time using his zombie-like status to exact some revenge on his school chums.
Hmm…well it’s another miss for me as I sit through my second horror flick in recent days that failed to deliver the goods. And like Pig Hunt (our review), made even more frustrating in how such a seemingly easy premise is fumbled so badly. Tormented has a pretty good premise, especially with the topic of bullying, and it’s introduction into the electronic age, being such a high-profile topic of late. But the makers of Tormented choose not to make any type of deep statement about the subject, deciding to just use bullying as an easy set up for a revenge style slasher flick. And you know what? So be it – it’s as good a setup as any. But what makes Tormented such a big disappointment is not the fact that they went the easier, lazier route as much as they took that route and still failed to produce an enjoyable movie.
Things start off bad with the introduction all the characters you will be spending time with for the next 87 minutes. Within the first 20 minutes I wanted to step through the screen and beat them all senseless. Well, not April Pearson – I wanted to do something else with her entirely. But still, the acting is horrid aside from Alex Pettyfer who plays Bradley, the leader of the pack. Other than him the acting was on par with an episode of Saved by the Bell with equally cliched and annoying characters. All complexities of the teen social structure are stripped down and painted in the broadest of strokes. But like I stated before, big deal. While I would have liked to watch a halfway intelligent horror film, I go both ways.
Sigh. What is up with the annoying style of filming where the simple act of a camera moving down a crowded hallway, or moving throughout the crowd of a teen party, is stylized by randomly fast-forwarding, then slowing down, fast forwarding, slowing down while at the same time removing frames. I understand that after Donnie Darko featured this technique that everyone who makes a movie featuring a high school hallway needs to do the same, but please – leave it to the professionals. In Tormented, the multiple times they do this, it comes off glaringly amateur and awkward – like some jackass just got control of my remote.
One thing Jon Wright did get right was being able to illicit the feelings of hate from me towards Bradley and his crew. I did want to see the characters murdered. But the bad thing about this was that feeling included every single character in the film. This included the ones we are supposed to want to survive as well. While I disliked Darren’s tormentors, I disliked Darren even more. Alive or dead he looks and acts like the son of Full Metal Jacket‘s Pvt. Pyle. Though we are suppose to believe otherwise by statement’s from his only friend and a suicide letter he wrote, flashbacks to when he was alive show him to be so dumb that I kept expecting the writers having him shouting “Frank and beans!” at random times. The only thing missing from his character was long ropes of drool hanging from his greasy, fat lips. And in death? ell he doesn’t fare any better. He is Darren the Schlubby Ghost, the lamest ghost of them all and I kid you not, he still uses his goddamn inhaler!
Admittedly, I did enjoy watching Darren do his thing – even if that did include a Death By Cannonball. And I’m not talking about the ones you shoot out of a cannon, but rather the kind you do in a swimming pool. But other than that, the deaths are the only redeeming thing about the movie. A few of the kills were done pretty well and include a head impalement, eye injury, decapitations, ripped of dicks, drownings, pencils through nose (one of the better ones), hands lopped off with a paper-cutter and stabbings. Too bad that in between these juicy dispatchings, you have to watch these dolts interact with each other. A budding romance between Justine and Alexis, rivalry between Alexis and Bradley, Justine’s ditching of her two close friends and of course the group trying to figure out what is going on.
All of this accompanied by one of the most annoying sound effects to accompany a cheap jump-scare in a movie. You ever try to scare someone or have someone scare you when in a quiet situation. You know, the lame act of grabbing them quickly and yelling? They do this in Tormented. They do it a lot. And I mean literally – the score features a woman yelling “AH!” whenever something unexpectedly scary happens and it is as silly as a ghost using an inhaler. But the rest of the music is alright, with tracks from the Desert Sessions, The Vines, Maps, and a Metric’s tune I dig called Monster Hospital (check out the video).
So if you are just a slasher completest like myself, then by all means check this out as you were probably going to anyway – just be sure to come back and share your thoughts. But for anyone looking for a good horror flick with a decent setup, look elsewhere. I give Tormented 2 pencils up the nose out of 5.
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