First let me say this, Jesse Metcalfe is a handsome enough fella, but he is overshadowed completely by the awesomeness that is Erika Christensen. I loved her in Traffic, and I love her in the TV show Parenthood – which is one of my favorites! Anyway, she’s just too much woman for poor Jesse. Oh, sure, in appearance I can buy them as a married couple. Handsome dad, beautiful mom, cute kid. They have it all. An upper middle class couple living the good life. But the good life comes crashing down around them.
Note: There are potential spoilers throughout this review, so you may want to stop here and return after watching the movie.
The Tortured (2010) starts off at 90mph. Craig (Metcalfe) and Elise (Christensen) Landry’s son was taken from them, from their home, by the worst kind of predator. And five minutes into the movie, my heart’s going a mile a minute. As a parent, this is your worst fear – someone takes your baby, and there’s nothing you can do. Elise comes home to police cruisers and detectives, and then there’s her husband falling apart. What we soon learn via a flashback is heart breaking.
Craig tried. The poor man ran inside for a minute – just one minute – to get some sunscreen for his little boy, and as he looks up, he sees this vile… thing… take his son. And this is Metcalfe’s finest acting. He sprints out of the house screaming, and when he bangs on the truck, screaming for his little boy, you can actually hear the pain in his voice. I won’t lie. I got a little choked up listening to him scream, and then hearing the little boy cry for his daddy… Oh! When it becomes obvious he can’t catch the truck on foot, we see him crash through his fence in his SUV, tires screeching and fear written all over his face. Eventually he loses site of the truck, and he pulls his SUV to a stop and starts trying to wave down someone for a phone when he realizes he forgot his.
And then their son is found. He’s found by two heroic officers. We don’t get to see much – thank goodness – but the shot of this big, burly police officer breaking into a room in a dark, dank basement and then looking away almost in tears as we see a tiny pair of sneakers is enough.
Initially I was happy to see the two grieving parents not turn from one another. Yes, they fought, and plenty of blame was tossed out, but it seemed as if they were going to work on their relationship.
But then we get to the trial. Horror icon Bill Moseley (Otis from The Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses) is perfectly cast as John Kozlowski. He’s the worst kind of evil, yet he’s hard to look away from. Let’s just say he plays the bad guy really, really well! By the time the trial rolls around – about 20 minutes into the movie – a wedge has already been driven into our couple’s relationship. Dad is front and center, and we see Mom creep into the courthouse and take a seat in the back – fear and trepidation on her face.
Viv Leacock plays Officer Patterson, the cop that found Benjamin’s body. His part is small, but he does a wonderful job here. He struggles to keep his voice as he recounts the horror of finding Benjamin’s body. We can see the cracks in his facade as he tells of the other bodies they found on the property.
And then we learn that the creepy guy makes a deal – twenty-five to life in exchange for the names of the other victims. And he could be eligible to get out in ten years. So we just know something is gonna go down with that news.
Elise is furious, and I get it. In that moment, the identities of the other victims don’t matter to her because there’s only one victim that matters in her mind – her baby boy. On the other hand, Craig is more pragmatic. They lost their son, so moving forward, if he can help give closure to other families, that’s some solace to him.
“I want you to help me get a gun,” Elise whispers to Craig. And the look on his face says it all. They can’t stand what the situation has made the other become, so it drives them apart.
We see the seasons change, kids outside playing again, and the Landry home in disarray. Craig can’t get it together, and when he heads out under cover of night and shows up on Elise’s doorstep, we know shit’s about to get serious.
The couple come up with a great plan for stealing the prison transport van carrying Disgusting Guy. Seems DG is about to be transferred from jail to prison. The Landry duo plan to drug the officers, steal the transport, and off they’ll go to deal with DG.
The plan works, sort of! When the officers stop for a coffee and snack break, Craig distracts them, and Elise slips a drug into their coffee. Craig’s a doctor, and apparently knows his stuff. The drug in question causes a sudden urge to find a nice secluded spot on the side of the road to drop trou… okay, so it’s obviously the greatest laxative known to man. Boy, does it work. The officers take an emergency potty break, and Craig jumps in the van and takes off. They got their guy. But in his… enthusiasm… for the upcoming torture, and possibly due to Bambi running out in front of him, Craig flips the van, and it goes crashing down a hill. Bodies are thrown, and we think for a moment maybe this is the end for our DG… and possibly Craig.
“CRAIG!” Elise screams frantically from the top of the hill, and relief floods her features as Craig struggles to get out of the van. Once Elise realizes that Craig is okay, she points to a body lying prone on the ground.
Craig runs over, and confirms that DG is indeed still alive. Let the torture begin!
And torture him they do. It isn’t overly graphic – no shots of over-the-top gore, no bones sticking out or anything like that, but it is believable. The kind of torture the Landry’s inflict is exactly what I would expect from two basically good people seeking to avenge the death of their son. Because in the end, that’s what this is about – revenge for their son, making the animal that violated him pay for his crimes. They want him to hurt, to be in pain. And as a doctor, Craig has the means to not only prolong the pain, but to also keep DG awake for much of it.
And then the big twist comes. Was I surprised? Yes. Did they wrap it up properly? No. But I won’t give it away.
This was another short movie – only about an hour and twenty minutes. It was paced correctly! The set up wasn’t overly long, nor were the scenes of torture drawn out. The script played to the actors’ strengths as well – Christensen’s dramatic chops, and Metcalfe’s (surprising) ability to look sad and tortured. Moseley was perfectly cast as the man that ruins their lives, and the supporting cast was more than adequate.
Don’t look for anything new here. It is somewhat predictable. I wish Robert Lieberman (director) and Marek Posival (writer) spent an extra 10 minutes playing up to the twist, but it works nonetheless. And overall, I was entertained while rooting for the good guys.
3 cups of drugged coffee out of five.