Jon Wright’s 2009 British horror TORMENTED is not the scariest film I’ve ever seen, nor is it the funniest; however, there’s something about it that stopped me from switching off.
Preppy head girl Justine (Tuppence Middleton) speaks at the funeral of Darren Mullet. She doesn’t remember Mullet, of course; he was just the big fat kid whom all the ‘cool’ kids thought it was fun to bully. For Mullet of course, it wasn’t fun at all, and it ultimately led to his suicide.
Later that evening Justine dumps her usual nerdy friends to go and party with the ‘in’ crowd and, more specifically, Alex (Dimitri Leonidas). She is soon accepted by the cool kids, and things between her and Alex heat up. Before the night is over, a killjoy Mullet decides to come back from the grave and gatecrash.
The rest of the film sees Mullet reap his revenge on his hateful classmates in a whole host of weird and wonderful ways, and it was the inventive deaths that kept me watching.
Tormented is shot like modern glossy U.S. Horror; it even has a pool party, really – a pool party, in England – outdoors! Because that happens all the time over here, honest! The glamorous cast also help to add to the American feel, but in spite of these Americanisms, the screenplay itself is very English. Whilst there is humour involved, it’s a bit hit and miss – only occasionally making me smile and, for the most part, actually irritating me a little.
I was hoping this would be a 1980s style stalk ‘n’ slash flick, but it just doesn’t have that edginess about it. The imaginative deaths certainly hark back to my favourite era, but the fact that they are mostly shot in daylight, in a sunny classroom, rather than having the madman creeping around in the shadows, certainly means that the atmosphere of the film remains light and airy in spite of the increasing death toll.
Tormented does show the impact on the poor victims of constant bullying and harassment, portraying the bullies as the evil, thoughtless, bastards they are. However, it also goes some way to show that children often bully so that they themselves will stay in with the ‘in’ crowd and not become victims themselves.
Of course a film of this genre would not be complete without some sex and nudity, and Tormented delivers a little of both. What was surprising was that the semi-naked bods are all male for a change, whilst the female cast get keep their modesty. Something that will, I’m sure, be disappointing to the spotty adolescent boys who watch this kind of stuff in the hope of seeing the obligatory bare-breasted females.
The humour in this will no doubt appeal to many people, even though it isn’t to my taste. Tormented certainly isn’t worth buying, but a rental may be worthwhile in order to see the creative deaths; however, given that almost all of these are shown in the trailer, it’s a close call.
TORMENTED (2009). Director: Jon Wright. Writer: Cast: Alex Pettyfer, April Pearson, Dimitri Leonidas, Calvin Dean, Tuppence Middleton