There have been a few times in my adult life that events have transformed me into a child again.
A few years ago, I began running again and lost a significant amount of weight. That wasn’t nearly as exciting as the moment I chased my then 6 year old son around the backyard for 20 minutes and I wasn’t even winded! It was a wonderful feeling of triumph and reinvention. I believe I took off for a run afterwards and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It’s one of my fondest memories.
The death of my mother, however, left me a blubbering man-child. I don’t care how old you are, when a parent passes, memories of your childhood overwhelm you. It was an awful time, and one that I leaned heavily on my wife. But life goes on for those still here, and we’ve all grown since that day. My father has dated since, and we are able to look at the fond times with mom before her passing.
Torment is the 2014 horror movie that explores many of the feelings felt when a parent passes, but it manages to toss in a broken family theme as well. It ties these all together nicely with a group of slashers torturing an already tortured family. While it can be quite touching, it does lack a large pool of victims and plays out like an extended final act of any stereotypical slasher film. The killers’ masks are original, and it is a good watch however.
Cory (Robin Dunne) plays father to his 9 year old son Liam (Peter DaCunha), and both are still reeling from the loss of Liam’s mom (and Cory’s wife). Cory immediately finds solace in the arms of the beautiful Katharine Isabelle. They get married, but Liam shows nothing but animosity to his new step mother. I’m guessing that the neighbors didn’t take too kindly to how quickly Cory remarried either because it’s mentioned that they’ve been married for three months and “haven’t done anything as a family”.
They are all on their way to the “family’s” vacation home. It’s not a cabin, but it is secluded for the most part. There are pictures of the old family on the walls, and Liam is quite protective of his mother’s chair. When they arrive, they find that somebody has been there. There’s rotten food in several rooms, there’s blood on a bed, and somebody has cut a large hole into the cellar door. After talking to the police, Cory boards up the cellar and the family attempts to relax.
When Sarah (Isabelle) checks on Liam that night, they find his bedroom empty. The couple then begin a frantic search for the child when they are confronted by a group of masked assailants. The masks are quite ingenious as they cut off the the heads of Liam’s stuffed animals and wear them (possibly against their will as one of them has it stapled onto him). It is a night of fighting, running, and torture.
While Torment doesn’t break new ground here plot wise, it is a nice addition to the slasher genre. Liam is struggling with his new life, and Cory is trying to play the strong father while also trying to nurture his new relationship with Sarah. The father and son scenes are really done well. On multiple occasions, the film allows Cory and Liam look and act like a real family. It feels real. However, during one scene when Cory is captured, one of the assailants (yes, they talk) alludes that Cory might be hiding something which is an interesting twist. Sarah just seems to be along for the ride, but she seems to have skeletons in her closet as well.
What I did like about Torment is that it takes a simple story (ala The Strangers) and doesn’t mess it up. The film is all about the chase, and how unsafe our homes can really be. It tries to put the attacks into context at the end, but I was not a huge fan of the ending. In a sense, it works completely. But, I just felt the air of mystery was let out to an extent. Unfortunately, there are only a finite group of people here. Outside of the main characters and killers, we are given one other potential victim/suspect and a random family out of context. This meant there was no suspense surrounding Sarah’s flight into the woods with 45 minutes left (and the only character the film was focusing on at this point) as her demise was quite unlikely at this point.
All in all, though, Torment is a great watch. There’s a shot near the the beginning of the film that shows the family eating lunch at a picnic pavilion. Behind them, fog carpets the outside and gives a ghostly feeling to the film. This was appropriate as you can feel the ghost of Liam’s mother haunting the film as well. It’s well shot (even though my screener was doing something funny with the lighting), and the performances are outstanding. DaCunha is a great child actor that plays well off his adult counterparts.
I haven’t seen much buzz about this film, but there should be. It has the set up of a potential franchise. Torment is definitely worth a watch.